- Renaming the policy and incorporating it into the Secured Rental Policy.
- Adding a requirement for housing to be within walking distance (around 400 metres) of places to shop, as well as a park or a school. This will help to address the Climate Emergency by encouraging housing within walking distance of daily needs, including parks, schools and shopping. As a result of this change, some areas have been added and others removed from eligibility under the policy.
- Clarifying the types and sizes of buildings that can be considered on arterial streets and off (adjacent to) arterial streets.
- Instructing staff to create new rental zones. The new rental zones would be used as part of rezoning applications, and would provide standard requirements for new rental housing while allowing for a range of building designs. This approach will simplify the rezoning process and provide more certainty regarding the types and sizes of buildings that can be built under the policy.
- Introducing requirements for zero-greenhouse gas emission heating and hot water systems to address the Climate Emergency.
- Creating an incentive for the inclusion of below-market rental housing units.
- The RT zoning in these areas does not require the retention of existing rental units in MCDs. Instead, current zoning encourages the conversion of MCDs to strata units.
- There is very little financial incentive to rezone an MCD with existing rental units in order to build a new rental apartment building.
- Proposed changes to the policy would limit eligibility to blocks adjacent to arterial roads. This would result in about the same number of rental MCDs being eligible as under the 2012 rental policy.
Is the City rezoning the residential (RS and RT) areas identified on the map?
No, the City is not rezoning any residential (RS or RT) lots through these changes. The map illustrates locations where the rezoning policy could apply. For a rezoning to take place, the process would need to be initiated by the property owner. Each rezoning will still be approved on a case-by-case basis, requiring support from Council and a Public Hearing.
What changes were made to the policy in 2019?
The update to the policy is meant to encourage more secured rental housing, improve livability and address climate change. The 2019 changes included:
How will the changes affect the rezoning process?
Applications to build new rental housing under the previous policy required the submission of detailed building designs with the rezoning application. A customized new zone, called a Comprehensive Development Zone (CD-1), was created for each new application.
The changes to the policy in 2019 include direction to create new rental zones. The rental zones would standardize regulations for the type, size and shape of the buildings. This would provide greater clarity on the type of building that could be considered through rezoning and is expected to shorten the rezoning process.
Each rezoning application would still require Council approval, and would still include opportunities for public input in writing or through a Public Hearing. Detailed building design would be reviewed following rezoning approval as part of the Development Permit process, which also provides an opportunity for public comment.
I want to know if this policy applies to my property. How can I find out?
The City created a map showing the approximate boundaries in which the policy would apply. The map is a general illustration, and is meant to be used along with diagrams to identify which blocks would and would not be eligible for rezoning. The map and diagrams can be found here.
If you would like more information on whether your property meets the requirements of the policy and would be eligible for rezoning please email us at email@example.com.
How many new rental buildings are you anticipating to be created in low-density (RS and RT) areas through these policy changes?
Previous City policy enabled consideration of rezoning applications for similar types of rental housing in RS and RT zoned areas since 2012. As of the end of 2019, 7 secured rental buildings (with a total of 450 units) on sites zoned RS or RT have received rezoning approval under that policy, and 3 further rezoning applications for RS or RT sites are currently under review.
The updated policy and the use of standard rental zones provides clarity on what can be achieved through rezoning and will simplify and shorten the rezoning process. These factors are expected to result in a modest increase in the amount of new rental housing built in RS and RT areas compared to the previous policy.
If the proposed changes double or triple the previous rate of uptake in low density areas, that would equate to an average of 2-3 new projects per year. Over an initial two-year pilot period, that could enable approximately 200-400 new rental units. On a city-wide scale, that level of uptake would still be a modest degree of change in low-density areas. However, that number of new units would make an important contribution to achieving our targets for rental housing.
Staff will monitor and report back on the results after a two year pilot period.
Won’t these changes create speculation and impact land values?
The City has had extensive third party economic analyses completed to test the impact of the proposed rental incentive policies. These analyses demonstrate that incentives are necessary to make new rental projects financially viable compared to the value of existing housing (e.g. a house with a secondary suite and a laneway house in RS zones).
Based on these findings and ongoing monitoring of the City’s rental housing incentive programs over the last decade, no increase in land value or speculation is anticipated as a result of the Secured Rental Policy. In the vast majority of cases, the highest value of properties in RS and RT areas will continue to be based on their use as houses or duplexes.
These changes are focused on market rental housing - what is the City doing to address the need for affordable housing?
The Housing Vancouver Strategy outlines the City’s key priorities, actions and targets to address the housing crisis and create more affordable housing, including by delivering 12,000 new social housing units that meet deeper levels of need. To achieve this the City is working with senior levels of government, including BC Housing and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, as well as partners in the non-profit housing sector. The City is also directing $540 million to affordable housing through the current 4-year Capital Plan.
Why are these areas being proposed as candidates for new rental housing in advance of the Vancouver Plan?
City policy has enabled consideration of rezoning applications for similar types of rental housing in low-density areas since 2012. The Secured Rental Policy is an update to this existing policy. Direction to increase the supply of new market and below-market rental housing across Vancouver, including in low-density areas, is part of the Council-approved Housing Vancouver Strategy and 3-Year Action Plan. The specific approach to these kinds of changes in low-density areas, including ensuring we are creating complete communities, will be considered through the Vancouver Plan. Along with the other rental program updates Council directed in November 2019, The changes are part of the actions being taken to address the housing crisis while work on the Vancouver Plan proceeds.
Back in March the map included yellow highlights in Kitsilano and Kensington-Cedar Cottage. These areas were noted as “under review.” What decision is being made about those areas?
Areas of Kitsilano and Kensington-Cedar Cottage include RT zoning with character retention provisions. Compared to other RS and RT zoned areas, these places have a significant number of houses that have been converted to three or more units, referred to as “multiple conversion dwellings” or MCDs. A significant share of units in older MCDs are rental housing.
We reviewed these areas to examine the potential impact of the Secured Rental Policy. The findings of the review include the following:
Overall, staff do not anticipate that the 2019 policy changes will create any additional pressure to redevelop MCDs in these areas. Staff are recommending that the eligibility requirements be applied consistently across the city, including in Kits and Kensington-Cedar Cottage.
Why is this work proceeding during a public health crisis? How will COVID-19 impact the timeline for this work?
Implementing the Secured Rental Policy is an important part of the City’s work to address the housing crisis, which continues to be a priority during the COVID-19 emergency response. Staff completed the majority of the planned in-person public and stakeholder engagement over the first two weeks of March, which included 6 public information sessions held at venues across the city. While it was necessary to cancel the 7th and final information session, all of the information has also been provided online and the public comment period has been extended. There will also be an opportunity for public input as part of the Public Hearing.
The circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak are evolving rapidly, and the extent to which they will delay the report back to Council on this work remains uncertain. A Public Hearing is now tentatively expected in Fall 2020.
Those interested in receiving email notifications when the report is available and Council dates are set are encouraged to sign up for the Housing Vancouver mailing list. You can register on the web page using the E-Newsletter.
I know someone that wants to provide comments, but is not comfortable with computers. What can they do?
We can mail them a paper copy of our comment form on request, and they can mail it back to us. Alternatively, they can write us a letter. Our mailing address is:
453 West 12th Ave