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Pre-Zoning for Infill Housing is Essential: Study

Shortage of ground-oriented housing in Metro Vancouver must be addressed with pre-zoning for gentle densification at Official Community Planning stage, says GVHBA report
By Joannah Connolly Apr 3, 2017

The best way to tackle the dire shortage of supply in ground-oriented housing is to pre-zone for infill housing at Official Community Plan stage, according to a study released April 3 by the Greater Vancouver Home Builder’s Association (GVHBA).

The association’s third annual Housing Approval Study (HAS) says there is currently a housing supply shortfall of more than 4,400 units per year (compared with Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy projections). Only three of the 17 Metro Vancouver municipalities studied met or exceeded their Regional Growth Strategy targets – Vancouver, Richmond and the City of North Vancouver

GVHBA infill housing targets graph

The report says, “Changing from the current project-by-project re-zoning process to pre-zoning areas at the Official Community Planning stage can reduce the building approvals process for infill housing by up to 18 months. Put into context, the current approvals system can take up to 24 months, while a typical two-level, 2,500-square-foot home takes just 16 to 18 weeks to build.”

GVHBA infill housing processing times graph

It adds, “Infill housing, the subject of this year’s HAS research, offers a viable form of gentle densification to address the ‘missing middle’ housing supply to support the growth of complete, liveable communities, while maintaining and enhancing the integrity of our existing neighbourhoods.”

Bob de Wit, CEO of GVHBA, said, “A small change can make a big impact. [Some] 18,000 new ground-oriented housing options can be built if just five per cent of single-family homes in Metro Vancouver are pre-zoned to allow for gentle densification through the more affordable duplex, triplex and quadplex ownership housing forms.”

GVHBA infill housing land use graph

The GVHBA/Landcor HAS 2017 – Infill Housing Report, including interactive maps, graphs and data broken down by municipality, can be viewed at www.gvhba/HAS

Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.
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