Tiny houses and wood-frame construction are some of the housing ideas that the Green Party of Vancouver wants to see the city looking at.
Those are two of the proposals that are outlined in the party’s municipal-election platform. As part of a list of almost 20 policies related to housing, the Greens are vowing to “encourage other affordability measures such as wood-frame multi-unit housing construction”.
In a phone interview with the Straight, Green council candidate Pete Fry cited the environmental performance, architectural form, and lower costs of the model as advantages. He noted that the B.C. building code allows up to six-storey wood-frame complexes.
Fry sees this kind of scale of new housing as being more amenable to communities than adding towers to residential areas.
“I think it’s something worth incentivizing, and I think it’s a gentler form of densification that kind of meshes a little bit better with neighbourhoods,” he said.
Another model that Fry wants the city to examine is the tiny-house movement. He said the housing form is currently in “a little bit of a grey area”.
“I would want to see some kind of sensitive legislation that recognizes the value of these small-footprint houses, a), for the environment, and, b), for affordability,” he said.
Fry is interested in models supported in Portland, including tiny-house communities for low-income residents or people at risk of homelessness.
“I think it’s just having your own space,” he said. “Obviously, you probably want to aspire to something a little bit bigger after a period of time, but it would be infinitely better than, say, an SRO.”
But he’s also interested in the more “informal nature” of tiny houses.
“I think that’s what a lot of the tiny-house activists are looking at right now, is the notion that if it’s cool with your neighbours, you could park a tiny house in your backyard and hook it up and really not require a permit to do so.”
The concept is one of several Portland examples that the Greens are seeking to emulate in Vancouver.
Another proposal is for Vancouver to ask the B.C. government to allow the city to introduce an “AirBnB tax”, with revenues directed to affordable housing.
“It’s something I’d like to see us look at,” Fry said. “It seems like a no-brainer, and it’s an easy win…I like the idea of it going to affordable housing.”