Greater Vancouver Housing: Under-utilized Lands

City of Vancouver senior development planner Chuck Brook and McKinsey Global Institute director Dr. Jonathan Woetzel join host Stuart McNish to discuss ways to best develop housing on government and private lands that are already paid for.

Vancouver, BC have been flirting in recent years with loosening the stranglehold of single-family zoning, and on rules that ban anything but detached houses on large lots from vast swaths of city land. The lack of affordable housing reaches crisis levels, prompting city officials to look into the need to allow more housing options in single-family neighbourhoods.

In June, the city of Vancouver grabbed the spotlight with the announcement of its “Making Room” strategy to open up single-family areas citywide to more duplexes, row-houses, and small apartment buildings. Details on this housing initiative was to be worked out by City officials in an 18-month process. But the strategy had already sparked controversy. Vancouver is suffering from exorbitant prices due to housing shortage where half of its land are zoned for for detached houses. Zoning liberalization is long overdue, and the “Making Room” rule changes could increase Vancouver’s new homes by three quarters.

If Vancouver city’s elected officials can overcome the inevitable political storm and put an end to current restrictive single-family zoning rules, Vancouver will set an example for cities throughout B.C. to better utilized valuable land for housing in the cities.