Public Engagement

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.

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.

Aerial shot of Auckland, NZ

The Auckland Unitary Plan is a comprehensive and city-wide rulebook that guides how land can be used and developed in the Auckland region.

The Plan essentially sets the blueprint for the city’s growth and development over the coming years. The plan covers a wide range of topics, including where different types of buildings can be located, what activities can take place in specific areas, and the rules for preserving the environment and heritage. It’s a crucial document for city planning, ensuring that Auckland develops in a coordinated and sustainable way while considering the needs and interests of its residents.

You can read a summary of the report on the Auckland City Council website, or alternatively for the full legislative breakdown, click here.

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: The Incremental Development Alliance

About: The Incremental Development Alliance was established in 2015 and works with local developers and civic leaders to strengthen their neighbourhoods through the development of small-scale real estate projects (mainly through the production of missing middle housing).

Their service offering includes training to catalyze projects & mentorship to public officials to create a supportive regulatory environment for small scale development to occur.

Their website features sample projects from past clients (including the development of pre-packaged missing middle housing plans and financial estimates in Chattanooga, TN, and re-writing zoning codes in Kalamazoo, MI), shares alumni stories, and lists upcoming Incremental Alliance Development events.

For more information: To learn more about the Incremental Development Alliance, head to their dedicated website.

Publication date: November 2023

Over the past number of years, we have seen more and more cities across North America change their zoning bylaws to allow for more housing. In Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria, Minneapolis, and states like Oregon and California to name just a few, cities are legalizing “missing middle” housing like laneway houses, multiplexes, and row houses to add more density to single family neighbourhoods.

Yet simply legalizing this important kind of housing does not necessarily mean that it will be built.

With this in mind, Small Housing teamed up with Uytae Lee and the team at About Here to produce a video to help shed light on what is preventing more forms of gentle density housing from emerging, and what can be done to overcome these barriers and deliver the types of homes that people want, need, and deserve. Uytae delves into the obstacles hindering the development of Missing Middle housing, such as height and lot restrictions, additional rules for increased density, and financial viability challenges. His reporting also helps viewers gain insights into cities, including Auckland, where successful Missing Middle projects have been delivered.

Did you know that over a fifth of homeowners across urban areas and over a third of homeowners in rural areas would consider building a small secondary home on their property in the next five years? That’s according to Small Housing’s province-wide public opinion study (April 2023) that sought to understand how British Columbians perceive small-scale infill housing in single-detached neighbourhoods.

In this video (June 2023), Avalanche Insights presents Small Housing’s survey results, detailing the key barriers and opportunities that the public face in regard to engaging with gentle density housing solutions.

Key insights:

  • Half (52%) of respondents are very concerned about lack of affordable housing in British Columbia. 73% are at least somewhat concerned.
  • There is little consensus on the cause of the housing problem. Those most impacted say economic intervention would solve the issue (49%). Those least impacted are more likely to name building more housing generally as a solution (34%).
  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents cite a positive emotion in reaction to the small housing solution, 10% say they feel hopeful.
  • Over a fifth of homeowners across urbanism say they would consider building a small secondary home on their property in the next five years, including 33% of those in rural areas.

For access to the full presentation, click here.