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Infill housing could be part of solution to shortages — if cities would approve more of it, say home builders

April 6th, 2017 · 1 Comment

Infill housing is what many politicians and housing advocates are chatting up these days as a way to inject a little density into single-family neighbourhoods, some of which are managing to lose population even while the region expands by 30,000 a year.

The Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association commissioned some special research from Landcor, which has provided a valuable resource now on some key housing statistics, to show how slow the infill-construction business is actually going.

Vancouver is doing the best, largely because it outright approved laneway houses in all RS-1 (standard single-family housing) zones in the city. But even Vancouver takes a long time to give out approvals and charges a lot of money for permits.

Some other cities are even worse, because almost every infill has to go through an individual rezoning process, along with the lengthy approval time and the money for permits.

Here’s my story on all of this and a link to the association’s report. (It has an interactive component. Go play!)



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  • Look Deeper

    Improving the permitting process (in Vancouver) would be a big help. But not just for “experienced developers” — for EVERYONE! Ditto streamlining and getting rid of intrusive City Building Code provisions.

    While only one of the infill options, I live in a laneway. Some comments
    No panacea.
    – environmentally unsound (separate building envelop means more heat loss, separate services means duplication)
    – very difficult to have efficient use of interior space (1.5 stories – lost space to stairs, duplicated bathrooms, etc)
    – no privacy
    – my patio is the lane — whoopee!!
    – my view is of neighbours garages — not too inspiring.
    – very expensive to build

    – quiet, I can make as much noise (inside) as I want without disturbing others
    – I have a garage for storage
    – it is on the ground (vs 100’s of feet in the air)
    – it is in a residential neighbourhood

    I wonder if townhouses or the back/front duplexes of Kits might not be a better approach.

    Everyone has their own preferences and values different things, so I am not suggesting that my views apply to others. I only offer them up as the result of personal experience. For me, not sure I could live in a laneway as a long-term housing solution. Great in the short term.