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Vancouver should allow more dwellings per lot in Shaughnessy, report says

A Vancouver city staff report will be discussed at a public hearing Thursday night regarding increasing housing density in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood.

The report proposes council should allow up to six dwelling units on all lots in the first Shaughnessy District and up to eight dwelling units for secured market rentals.

B.C.’s new housing legislation is spurring the proposed changes.

Bill 44, adopted by the Provincial Legislature in November 2023, will allow for increased maximum densities to create new “small-scale, multi-unit housing.”

The bill is forcing cities to allow up to four units on a standard residential lot.

The proposed changes by city staff go beyond the B.C.’s minimum requirements, which is the reason for a public hearing.

UBC urban economics and real estate expert Tom Davidoff said the proposal is “extremely gentle.”

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“It’s a very modest proposal. It’s a lot of land, and if you convert a lot of single-family homes, maybe about 1,000 or 2,000, it could become 3,000 or 4,000 homes,” Davidoff said, UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate’s director. “If you had a lot and a three-storey building, you’d only be able to cover a sixth of that lot. So still leaving a lot of open space in that neighbourhood. (The report) is not talking about apartments … that would be the appropriate use of land there.”

While Davidoff said the proposal is moderate, it is still encouraging for him to see the city doing something about one of the least dense neighbourhoods in the city.

“Hey, (at least) the city’s doing something. At least it’s saying, ‘No more single family mansion zoning.’ They’re (proposing) four, six, maybe eight  units on a large lot,” he said. “You’re still leaving it at a very low density but what the city is proposing is a step in the right direction.”

The public hearing is scheduled for Thursday night, and it will also be discussing increasing allowable density in some areas in Kitsilano as well, to make sure that neighbourhood is aligned with the new provincial legislation.

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