• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

    New Housing Revolution in British Columbia: Transforming Single-Family Neighborhoods

    ByJames Forsyth

    Nov 21, 2023
    New Housing Revolution in British Columbia: Transforming Single-Family Neighborhoods

    A significant housing revolution is on the horizon in British Columbia, set to transform single-family neighborhoods across the province’s cities and towns. Currently, these neighborhoods occupy a large percentage of land area while accommodating only a small portion of the population. However, recent changes to zoning bylaws are about to change the landscape.

    Over the past 20 years, Vancouver has been at the forefront of this transformation. Back in 2004, the city amended its bylaws to legalize basement suites in single-family houses, and other municipalities quickly followed suit. In 2009, Vancouver once again amended its zoning bylaws, allowing for the construction of laneway homes on many lots. Since then, approximately 5,400 laneway homes have been built, with other municipalities following Vancouver’s lead.

    But now, a new change is on the horizon. In September, Vancouver City Council approved zoning bylaw changes that will allow for the construction of multiplexes on single-family lots. This means that depending on the lot size, up to six dwellings can be built on a single lot. Additionally, simplified regulations for single-family zones will make it easier to build these multiplexes.

    To encourage the construction of multiple homes on single-family lots, the city has increased the floor space ratio (FSR) allowed. Previously, the FSR was limited to 0.86, but now it can go up to 1.0. This means that the total area of the dwellings can increase, providing more living space.

    The new multiplex zoning also opens up opportunities for both ownership and rental housing. Units can be strata-titled and sold individually, or they can remain affordable rental units. Builders also have the option to make a financial contribution to the city instead of creating an affordable unit.

    One notable change is the elimination of off-street parking requirements. Previously, a minimum of one parking space was required for single-family dwellings, regardless of additional units. However, under the new zoning, there is no off-street parking requirement, although builders may still choose to provide parking for higher-end homes.

    With these new changes, the housing landscape in British Columbia is set to undergo a significant transformation, opening up opportunities for increased density, affordability, and diversity in single-family neighborhoods.


    What is a multiplex?

    A multiplex is a single residential structure comprising multiple units. It can be designed in various forms, such as side-by-side duplexes with suites below each half and a laneway house in the rear, or a small cluster of townhomes.

    What is floor space ratio (FSR)?

    Floor space ratio (FSR) is the ratio of the total building area to the area of the lot. It determines how much floor area can be built on a specific lot.

    Can the new multiplexes be sold individually?

    Yes, under the new zoning, units in multiplexes can be strata-titled and sold individually.

    Is off-street parking required for the new multiplexes?

    No, there is no off-street parking requirement under the new zoning. However, builders may still choose to provide parking, especially for higher-end homes.