Vancouver streamlines delivery of new rental housing in and around neighbourhood shopping areas

Changes could help deliver close to 5,000 new secured rental units over the next 10 years


AS part of the City of Vancouver’s commitment to address the climate emergency and housing crisis, City Council has approved policy and zoning changes that will create more complete, connected and walkable communities in Vancouver by speeding up the delivery of rental housing in local shopping areas and low-density areas nearby.

“Yesterday, the majority of Council took an important step that will make it easier and faster to build rental homes for working people,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Wednesday. “By allowing secure rental housing near residents daily needs we’re also creating walkable communities in more neighbourhoods, which supports our climate goals.”

The amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law and associated updates to the Secured Rental Policy will:

  • Streamline and shorten the approval process, and provide greater clarity and certainty on the types of new rental buildings that can be built by:

– Using residential rental tenure zoning for the first time to allow 6-storey rental buildings in C-2 (commercial-mixed use) zones to proceed without a rezoning.

– Standardizing rezoning options for new rental buildings in some low-density residential (RS and RT) zones around local shopping areas, including up to five-storey market rental apartments and six-storey apartments with 20% below-market rental or 100% social housing on arterial streets.

  • Encourage greener buildings through simpler building designs, which make it easier to use less carbon intensive construction materials like wood, and through enhanced green building standards and requirements for zero emissions space and hot water heating.
  • Improve public spaces in local shopping areas by requiring wider sidewalks and ensuring building designs on narrower streets minimize shadows on sidewalks.
  • Help revitalize local shopping areas and create more complete, walkable and less car-reliant neighbourhoods by locating new rental housing near existing shopping, transit, and other amenities and daily needs.

“Strategically locating rental housing near shops, amenities, and services creates lower carbon emitting, walkable communities where residents are close to their daily needs,” said Theresa O’Donnell, Director of Planning and General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability. “By promoting wood-frame construction, lower embodied emissions and aggressive green building standards, these new buildings will provide energy efficient homes for renters in our city and significantly advance the City’s response to the Climate Emergency.”  

This move implements key actions identified in the Secured Rental Policy, which was approved by Council in November 2019, following a comprehensive review of City’s previous longstanding rental incentive policies. Staff estimate the changes could help deliver close to 5,000 new secured rental units over the next 10 years.