British Columbia

As Vancouver grows and evolves, we need to ensure that there are housing options that meet the needs of the diverse households that live and work here, including more “missing middle” housing options. With the help of Quickviz, the City of Vancouver developed this useful video that illustrates the changes proposed to allow more of this type housing in low density neighbourhoods across the city as part of the implementation of the Vancouver Plan. The animation depicts a standard block with a variety of housing options, including multiplexes (buildings with up to 6 units on a single lot).


As Vancouver grows and evolves, we need to ensure that there are housing options that meet the needs of the diverse households that live and work here, including more “missing middle” housing. With the help of Uytae Lee from About Here, the City of Vancouver explains what the “missing middle” is, and why they are exploring changes to allow more of this type of housing, including multiplexes (buildings with up to 6 units on a single lot), in low density neighbourhoods across the city as part of the implementation of the Vancouver Plan.

Nestled near the Elders Centre in the Tl’etinqox Community, six cabin-like homes are placed to form a circle to represent the four sacred directions, the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of life and more, and to encourage community gathering.

Tl’etinqox began to develop Elders Cabins in 2019 to honour the intentions, prayers, and needs of their Elders by providing safe and affordable living spaces for them to age in place, at the heart of the community. Elder tenancy applications opened for the cabins in September 2020.

Key insights:

In November of 2023, the province of British Columbia released their “Homes for People Plan” that drastically reduced zoning and municipal barriers to the creation of gentle density homes. In summary, new legislation requires all local governments in British Columbia to update their zoning bylaws to allow up to three to four units in all single-family zones and up to six units for properties with frequent bus service.

This resource, developed by the province, is intended to help local governments and their community members understand the legislative changes introduced related to small-scale, multi-unit housing (SSMUH).

Note: The information in this tool kit is for guidance only and is not a substitute for provincial
legislation. It is not legal advice and should not be relied on for that purpose.

Key insights:

This guide paper addresses the ownership and operations of gentle density housing in British Columbia. It was created in collaboration with industry experts and includes key recommendations to remove barriers that reduce the viability and uptake of gentle density housing.

The actionable recommendations contained in this guide paper provide specific and clear direction to the responsible parties on how they can support the removal of barriers and enhance the viability of gentle density projects for the homeowner-developer in British Columbia.

Supporting and incentivizing homeowner-developer-led projects is, in the opinion of the roundtable, the most likely model to succeed at implementation at scale, while putting community and affordability first.

Key insights:

This Small Housing guidance paper presents research findings from interviews, focus groups and a multi-stakeholder roundtable, including the participation of industry experts, building officials and key government representatives to unpack current barriers to adoption and explore approaches to accelerating the use of offsite construction to grow gentle density supply.

This guidance paper provides background information, identifies key barriers and offers recommendations in seven areas:

  1. Government Initiatives
  2. Industry Collaboration and Knowledge Building
  3. Municipal Toolkits for Offsite-Ready Local Governments
  4. Offsite-Ready Construction Financing
  5. Pilot Studies for Modular Streamlining
  6. Standard Design Catalog and Design Competition
  7. Enterprise Zone Incentives

Key insights:

This Small Housing Guidance Paper presents recommendations that will assist various actors involved in planning, designing and constructing energy efficient buildings, especially as it relates to new gentle density development.

It provides background information and identifies challenges and recommendations in eight key areas:

  1. Building industry productivity and collaboration
  2. Expertise gap in building sector
  3. Training and skills development
  4. Standardization and process improvement
  5. Challenges with legislation and bylaws
  6. Focus on embodied carbon
  7. Energy modeling and verification
  8. Infrastructure and utilities

Discover organizations from across Canada, and the rest of the world, who are contributing towards the gentle density movement and the delivery of homes that people want, need & deserve.

Name: Smallworks

About: For the last 16 years, Smallworks has been the heart of laneway housing in North America and we have operated with a simple mission, to empower homeowners to create housing solutions that work for them.

The organisation strongly believe in this form of housing; infill housing provides gentle density, while preserving the neighbourhoods we’ve come to know and love.

Having built nearly 400 homes, they take pride in being able to use experience to accurately project both cost and timeline, ensuring that their homes are built on time, on budget, and with no surprises.

For more information: Head to their dedicated website.

The Infill Challenge Best Practices Summary from the City of Kelowna provides an analysis of leading edge policies, processes and projects in infill housing, and gives us the opportunity to learn from them.

Key insights:

The Best Practices Guide is intended to provide leading edge examples of infill housing from across Canada in the areas of process, development, and policy and regulations. The key lessons from each of these areas can be used to inform the Infill Challenge project as it unfolds in Kelowna.

Samples include:

Process:

  • Engage stakeholders early
  • Follow an objective, transparent process
  • Use data and research to clarify needs and objectives

Development:

  • Encourage the use of place-based design
  • Ensure that lane access and a grid network are in place
  • Require that front doors face the street, where possible

Policy & Development:

  • Use clear language (no jargon)
  • Support the process with strong visuals
  • Consider context-based zoning regulations and guidelines

When it comes to managing space, less isn’t always more.

“Kelowna has lots of lots with just one aging home and empty space that could be used differently – like a swimming pool, restaurant or stadium that is far under capacity, these large lots could accommodate more people than they do now.”

As part of its Infill Housing initiatives, the City of Kelowna produced a number of visual resources to capture how existing single family zonings were leading to significant inefficiencies that were undermining the wellbeing of the broader community.

These resources, available to view on their dedicated homepage to infill development, are a simple but effective example of public engagement materials that can help local planners in their efforts to win support for gentle density housing initiatives.