Vancouver pilot to permit six units on a detached lot
At a glance (3 minute read)
- The City of Vancouver is building a pilot program to allow owners to build up to six units on a single-family zoned lot.
- The city will tax the increased value this densification adds to the lot.
In the coming year, City of Vancouver staff will be developing policies and guidelines for a pilot program that would permit owners of single family lots to build up to six units.
Vancouver council passed this pilot Making Home program on January 26, 2022.
How the pilot will work
While there are many details to be decided, the pilot would permit up to 2,000 property owners to build up to six ground-oriented, 800 to 1,000 square foot, fee-simple, rental or co-op units on their single detached lots.
Each owned unit would have a value today of $800,000 and owners could sell or rent the units.
The city is considering offering property owners two choices:
- Skip the development approval process with a pre-approved design. This would be the new “Vancouver special” model.
- Go through the development approval process with site-specific designs.
The pilot, in theory, will benefit:
- home buyers and owners looking for affordability in their neighbourhoods – including downsizing seniors, upsizing millennials, existing owners, and small builders; and
- essential workers looking to live close to where they work.
The catch – a land lift capture
A detached lot with a single-detached home now worth $2 million would more than double in value once six units are built.
The city is looking at taxing this land lift – the increase in value, which would work via a simple per square foot charge.
Staff are working on what that would look like now, but the idea would be to charge enough that it doesn’t lead to speculation and profit taking, but not so much that there isn’t an incentive to apply (and pay for your development process).
This is the third instance of Vancouver using this type of mechanism specifically to regulate speculation and share land lift with the community. The other examples are within the Cambie corridor and as part of the Broadway Plan.
For this pilot program, the land lift mechanism wouldn’t require one-off re-zonings, instead being part of the zoning.
It is expected that city staff will report back to council with a proposed pilot program by late 2022 or early 2023.
The city plans to use the land lift revenue to build affordable rental homes for those earning less than $80,000 per year, repair infrastructure, expand childcare, build parks and playgrounds, and accelerate climate action initiatives.
- Read about Making Home.
- Watch a video on Making Home. (2 minutes 27 seconds)
- Read Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s Motion (page 20, section 8) to permit six units on 2,000 Vancouver lots currently zoned for single-detached home or duplexes to be developed for up to six units, subject to appropriate rezonings.