Vancouver lawmakers have approved a new rental-zoning policy designed to increase the number of rental home available in the city by easing density restrictions.
The new policy will allow four-storey townhomes and apartment buildings on side streets and provides for six-storey residential mixed with commercial on main streets. In addition, “rental-only” zoning will be applied in some areas to lessen competition with condos.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart is hopeful that this move will prevent land values from spiking and eventually stabilize rents.
While developers and landlords alike approve, tenant advocates are expressing some skepticism that rents in these future units will be affordable for middle-income renters, which comprise a large portion of the city’s residents.
But the mayor remains optimistic. “This is a big deal!” he posts on social media. “We’ll have more family friendly rental buildings near parks, schools, and shopping.”
The rental-only zoning policy is referred to by some as “pre-zoning” which should alleviate delays in the permitting process that has stymied rental housing projects in the past. However, some restrictions were added back into the policy after lengthy debate before City Council and it is unclear to what degree the building approval process will be streamlined for developers or impacted by the city’s “renoviction” rules for residential units in commercial buildings.
Mayor Stewart estimates 8,000 new units will come to market over the next seven years.
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