Streamlining Rental: Making it easier to build secure rental housing in more neighbourhoods

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Photo of 5080 Quebec St. 5-Storey Building

As Vancouver grows, we need to ensure there are a variety of housing options to meet the diverse needs and range of household incomes of people who live and work here. Building more secure rental housing in all areas of the city is a critical component to this.

The majority of Vancouver’s households are renters, and the need for secure rental housing has grown as fewer are able afford the rapidly rising costs of homeownership. In the mid 1970s, strata condos began to dominate new apartment construction and almost no new secure rental housing was built in Vancouver for 30


Photo of 5080 Quebec St. 5-Storey Building

As Vancouver grows, we need to ensure there are a variety of housing options to meet the diverse needs and range of household incomes of people who live and work here. Building more secure rental housing in all areas of the city is a critical component to this.

The majority of Vancouver’s households are renters, and the need for secure rental housing has grown as fewer are able afford the rapidly rising costs of homeownership. In the mid 1970s, strata condos began to dominate new apartment construction and almost no new secure rental housing was built in Vancouver for 30 years. These lost decades resulted in a significant shortfall of rental that has contributed to the current housing crisis. While the City introduced incentives for the construction of new rental housing in 2009 that have resulted in some new rental buildings, there is still a lot of catching up required to meet the need rental housing need.

In November 2019, following a 10 year review of the City’s Rental Incentive Programs, Council approved the Secured Rental Policy. This policy consolidates, updates and strengthens rental incentive policies that have been in place in Vancouver for over a decade. The Secured Rental Policy identifies two key changes needed to make it easier to building secure rental housing in Vancouver:

  1. Changes to C-2 zoning to allow new 6 storey rental buildings through the same process as new 4 storey condo buildings (without rezoning)

  2. Changes to policy for rezoning in low-density areas (RS or RT zones) to simplify the process by standardizing regulations through new rental zones, focusing on areas within walking distance of public transportation, shopping and other daily needs

Learn more about the proposed actions, share your comments, and attend a virtual information session below.

The updated Secured Rental Policy is the outcome of extensive public and stakeholder consultation over the last 4 years, including what we’ve heard through engagement on the Housing Vancouver Strategy and 3-Year Action Plan (2017), the Rental Incentive Program Review (2019), and the Secured Rental Policy implementation work for C-2 zones and low-density areas (2020).

  • Streamlining Rental Housing Affordability

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    Housing Affordability

    A new board has been posted to detail and compare the housing prices and incomes needed to afford them in social housing, below-market rental, market rental and ownership housing. There is a significant diversity among renter households and their housing needs. With ownership out of reach for most residents, rental housing provides a range of secure homes to serve a variety of households and incomes, while improving housing affordability over time.

    Housing Affordability
    Rental housing vs. ownership affordability board

  • Council Update, Shadow Studies, Engagement to Date

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    Council Direction

    On Wednesday July 21, Council voted to direct staff to prepare the Streamlining Rental by-law amendments for consideration of referral to public hearing in Q4 of 2021. The public hearing will provide a final opportunity for members of the public to speak to Council or submit comments on the proposed changes. If approved at public hearing, the changes would come into effect in late fall and applications for new rental projects could then be submitted.


    To see the Streamlining Rental update to Council, refer to Appendix B of the Vancouver Quick Starts Action Council Report.


    Engagement to Date and Shadow Studies

    New boards have been posted detailing the update on the engagement to date including the themes from the virtual information sessions held in June, and the shadow studies for both RS/RT and C-2 areas. Example sites and building options have been selected to show the most typical types of rental buildings expected to be built, and those that would generally create the greatest shadow impacts.


    July 2021 - Engagement to Date, Shadow Studies
    A brief engagement update and shadow studies for C-2 and RS/RT areas.


    Survey Deadline Extension

    The survey has been extended to close on July 30, 2021 for any last minute comments on the proposed changes.

    Please visit Shapeyourcity.ca/Rental-rz to submit your responses and see the new materials.

  • Proposed actions

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    May 2021

    Details on Streamlining Rental, including background, findings from previous engagement and specifics on how the proposal has been refined since 2020, are available through the links below. Start from the top, or click on the section you are interested in to skip ahead. Share your comments and feedback through our comment form.


    Background & Context (hyperlink)
    Where this work started and where we've been
    Why is secure rental housing important? (Hyperlink)
    Housing affordability, climate emergency response and Complete Connected Neighbourhoods

    Engagement to date (hyperlink)
    Engagement to date on the Secured Rental Policy and proposed actions

    Summary of proposed actions (hyperlink)
    What changes are proposed and how we’ve refined them in response to what we’ve heard

    Leveling the playing field for rental housing and strengthening commercial streets
    Making it easier and faster to build market and below market rental housing near shopping, transit, and other daily needs

    Process and Timeline

  • Policy updates and report to Council

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    May 2021

    Council approved the Secured Rental Policy in November 2019 to update and strengthen rental policies that have been in place in Vancouver for over 10 years. The updates are the outcome of extensive public and stakeholder consultation over the last 4 years. As part of the updates, the Secured Rental Policy identifies two key changes needed to make it easier to build rental housing:

    1. Changes to C-2 zoning (commercial mixed-use areas) to allow 6 storey rental buildings through a shortened approvals process that requires a development permit. With this change, new 6 storey rental buildings on commercial streets would follow the same approval process as 4 storey condo buildings.
    2. Changes to the policy for rezoning in RS and some RT zoned areas (low density residential) to allow new rental buildings up to 6 storeys, including process changes to utilize new standard rental zones to make it simpler and faster to build new rental housing and updated locational eligibility criteria that focus on areas within walking distance of public transportation, shopping and other daily needs.


    Engagement on these changes began in spring 2020 but was delayed due to COVID-19 and to allow further engagement and alignment with Vancouver Plan emerging directions.


    Timeline for report back to Council

    Once additional public engagement is complete, staff will prepare a report for Council’s consideration in Fall 2021. All public commentary on the proposed changes to make it easier to build rental housing in neighbourhoods will be summarized and included in the report. Council will decide at that time whether to refer the changes to zoning and related policy updates to a public hearing later in the fall. The public hearing will provide a final opportunity for members of the public to speak to Council or submit comments on the changes proposed.

    If approved at public hearing, the changes would come into effect in late fall and applications for new rental projects could then be submitted.

  • Previous reports to Council on proposed C-2 and Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan changes

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    April 2021


    Previous report back on C-2 changes and Council direction

    In June 2020, staff brought a report to Council on proposed amendments to the C-2 commercial zoning districts (including C-2, C-2B, C-2C and C-2C1) to enable secured rental housing to be developed without rezoning. Following the July 2020 public hearing, Council referred the proposed changes back to staff until Council has considered the forthcoming report regarding amendments to the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan to include the C-2 zones, and following further public consultation through the Vancouver Plan in the fall of 2020, including at the neighbourhood level.

    Read more information on Council’s decision on the C-2 changes in July 2020 in the public hearing minutes.


    Report back on Council direction regarding extension of the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan to C-2 zones

    In February 2021, staff brought a report to Council with proposed amendments to the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan (RHS ODP) to further protect existing rental stock in Vancouver by extending the RHS ODP to areas zoned C-2, C-2B, C-2C and C-2C1. Council approved the proposed changes following completion of the public hearing in April 2021.

    Read more information on Council’s decision on the RHS ODP in the public hearing minutes.

  • Council approves provisional goals for Vancouver Plan and directs additional engagement on rental housing initiatives

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    October 2020

    In October 2020 Council approved 10 provisional goals for the Vancouver Plan, including two goals that are closely linked to key objectives of the Secured Rental Policy:

    • Develop an Affordable City with Diverse and Secure Housing for every resident that they can afford with 30% or less of their household income
    • Achieve Complete, Connected and Culturally Vibrant Neighbourhoods
    • Become a Sustainable, Carbon Neutral City


    For more information on work underway as part of these provisional goals and opportunities to get involved, visit:

    As part of subsequent work on the Vancouver Plan, including continued public engagement on the provisional goals and community recovery and quick-start actions, Council directed staff to conduct additional city-wide and neighbourhood engagement on opportunities to increase rental housing in C-2 zones and low density transition areas through the Secured Rental Policy, as well as ways to increase social housing.

    Read more about the provisional goals in the Council report and on Council’s direction in the meeting minutes