Duplexes can now be built in 99% of Vancouver’s single-family areas

Following two days of public hearings and heated debates, Vancouver City Council approved a new policy this evening that allows the construction of duplexes within 99% of all single-family areas in the city.

This was the current City Council’s final meeting, with City Councillors voting on the matter along party lines; Mayor Gregor Robertson, all Vision Vancouver councillors, and Yes Vancouver Councillor Hector Bremner voted in favour, while the three Non-Partisan Association Councillors and Green Party Councillor Adriane Carr voted against.

This form of development allows houses to be divided into two suites with separate entrances, adding to the existing maximum of three suites – a single-family house, secondary suite, and a laneway house. However, the permitted height and density has not changed.

About 67,000 single-family lots, accounting for 52% of the city of Vancouver’s land mass, are now eligible for duplexes.

This is one of the most significant policies of Robertson’s decade-long term as the Mayor of the city.

“The decision by Council to make it legal to build duplexes in single family neighbourhoods across Vancouver is one more step we’re taking to boost the right supply of housing for people who live and work in Vancouver,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson, who emphasized this policy is a necessary step to help address housing affordability.

“This is not a silver bullet for Vancouver’s housing challenges, but we have to deal with the fact that more than half of the City’s land base is zoned exclusively for single family homes – homes that are out of reach for the overwhelming majority of residents. Over the past two years of consultation for the new Housing Vancouver strategy, we heard loud and clear that Vancouverites want more housing options in single family neighbourhoods.”

Vancouver duplex housing

Duplexes are already permitted in neighbourhoods like Kitsilano, Strathcona, and Grandview Woodland, and the new policy expands this permitted development type to neighbourhoods such as Dunbar, Kerrisdale, and West Point Grey.

This is part of City Council’s Making Room program of increasing housing options in low-density neighbourhoods, particularly areas that are seeing a decline in population.

The next City Council will decide whether Making Room should be further expanded to potentially allow rowhouses, townhouses, and low-rise apartments in low-density neighbourhoods. City staff are expected to offer recommendations on these new density types by the summer of 2019.

Kenneth Chan

National Features Editor at Daily Hive, the evolution of Vancity Buzz. He covers local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and the travel industry. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year’s Eve Vancouver.