Vancouver city council will hold a public hearing on a proposed measure to make it easier to build new social housing.
This can be done by doing away with the rezoning process.
Rezoning is typically required for developments that involve more height and density than are allowed under existing zoning.
To hasten the delivery of social housing, city planners recommend amending zoning districts classified as RM or residential multi-family.
The proposed change will allow six-storey social housing developments.
If approved, social housing projects will only have to go through a development application, which means proponents will have to deal only city planners.
A rezoning process takes longer, and it is a more difficult process. It includes, among others, going through a public hearing before city council.
The proposed change will cover zoning districts called RM-3A, RM-4, and RM-4N.
These zoning districts currently allow residential developments up to three to four storeys.
The districts are found in the following neighbourhoods: Fairview, Grandview-Woodland, Hastings-Sunrise, Kensington-Cedar Cottage, Kitsilano, Marpole, and Mount Pleasant.
Dan Garrison, the city’s assistant director of housing policy and regulation, prepared a report for city council.
Garrison wrote that consultation with non-profit societies, co-ops and senior government levels has “emphasized the City’s crucial role in accelerating the development approvals process for social housing”.
“Non-profits and co-ops have indicated that the rezoning process - required for developments requiring more height and density than what is allowed under existing zoning – adds significant cost, time, complexity, and risk to development applications,” the city planner stated.
In addition, Garrison cited that previous staff analysis has “demonstrated that half of recent social housing developments required approval via rezoning, compared to less than a third of market condominium developments”.
The city planner recalled that council on June 19, 2018 approved the Housing Vancouver Affordable Housing Delivery and Financial Strategy.
“As part of the approval, Council also directed staff to report back with amendments to certain RM (residential multi-family) zoning districts to allow additional density to encourage social housing renewal and expansion, in order to streamline delivery of affordable housing targeted to low- and middle-income households,” Garrison related.
The proposed amendment to the RM zoning districts is included in the public hearing agenda of council on Thursday (April 15).