Adding Missing Middle Housing and Simplifying Regulations

Adding Missing Middle Housing and Simplifying Regulations

From: Guy Cross <[email protected]>
Subject: 1. Adding Missing Middle Housing and Simplifying Regulations
Dear Mayor and Council,
I am strongly opposed to the subject rezoning proposal — which, as I recall, was central to Kennedy Stewart’s 2022 election campaign.
Arguably, it is entirely predictable that subject proposed rezoning would:
1. Further inflate property values in RS zones across Vancouver

2. Preferentially incentivise the demolition of existing older homes, resulting in..
a. loss of heritage/character houses and related neighbourhood character,
b. loss of much of Vancouver’s most affordable housing
(notably, more than 40% affordable rental housing in some RS neighbourhoods),
c. increased waste and associated release of embodied carbon through demolition,

   d. increased carbon emissions associated with resource extraction, manufacturing,
       transportation and construction of new housing.
3. Lead to unprecedented loss of mature tree canopy, with
   a. associated loss of shade,
   b. release of embodied/sequestered carbon. reduced atmospheric oxygenation
       through photosynthesis, and related reduction in carbon sinking capacity,

c. and undermining of neighbourhood aesthetic/character.

4. Result in major reduction of permeable ground, with serious implications for storm
    drainage and associated flooding in connection with increasingly extreme
    weather events.

5. Produce increased strain on already overburdened water/storm drainage/sewerage
infrastructure, with associated cost/tax implications.

6. Cause major construction-related impacts on local communities, including noise
    and air-quality, particularly as scale of construction increases.

In contrast, benefits are predictably limited for average Vancouverites.

1. Increased housing opportunities for high-income households.

2. Increased permitting and property tax revenues for the City.
3. Massive profits for the small-scale development industry.
What about public consultation?
Given the scope and city-wide implications of proposed rezoning, related
public notification and consultation has been relatively limited in scope and
with questionable measures of public support.
In contrast, the City’s Character Home Rezoning Review, undertaken
between March 2015 and September 2017, was a fulsome process that engaged
extensively with neighbourhoods across Vancouver, and established broad and
unquestionable public support for incentives to retain and convert existing
character/heritage homes for multi-family use.
The full range of public consultation is summarized in the following diagram

And, again, public support was perfectly clear..

Inline image

The problem for Vancouver is that the FSR incentive for Character House retention
did not go over well with so-called  “practitioners” (a tiny minority of Vancouverites with
disproportionate influence at City Hall), who ultimately pulled the plug on the obvious
alternative to the counterproductive proposal that’s before you today!
Thus, in view of foregoing obvious downsides associated with subject proposed
rezoning, I encourage you to apply the brakes and to direct staff to re-visit and
re-assess the broadly supported alternative vision developed through the prior
Character Home Rezoning Review.
In my view, there should be little question that the vast majority of Vancouverites
would be better served by that prior approach to a more affordable, more sustainable
and more livable Vancouver.
Ultimately, only a tiny minority would be unhappy.
Guy Cross
The Missing Middle Housing Plan

The Missing Middle Housing Plan

The Sept. 14 Public Hearing is fast approaching with only 11 days left to get the word out.
People will be getting back from summer break without any idea that most of the city is about to be rezoned.
Here are reference materials and information on how to participate in the public hearing.
There are many issues with the proposed RS rezoning that negatively affects livability, sustainability, and affordability. Some examples are:
  • Lack of neighbourhood planning and meaningful stakeholder involvement limited to developers interested in building new multiplexes.
  • These rezoning changes are just the beginning, with staff indicating the next steps will be to apply similar changes and consolidation of all RT zones citywide.
  • no required on-site parking that puts more pressure on street parking and undermines the shift to electric vehicles with no place to park for charging
  • loss of trees and green space, both onsite and for street trees due to reduced front yards that impacts street tree roots
  • lack of infrastructure to serve growth including sewers, water supply, electrical grid, schools, daycare, community centres, recreation facilities, medical services, social services, etc.
  • impacts of new requirements for onsite underground water holding tanks and electrical transformers (PMT) required for an onsite 12 ft x 12 ft easement on each lot to mitigate lack of infrastructure
  • loss of affordable secondary suites through demolition, and with no requirement to have a suite with a new single family house
  • no design guidelines for development quality and contextual design
  • development pressures on land affordability and lack of affordability of new units not much if any less than the original units demolished.
  • This proposed plan will undermine character house and heritage building retention incentives and should be revised to be equal to or greater than new construction to be an incentive.

  • Properties listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register should be exempt from multiplexes, and instead have viable incentives for increasing density and multifamily through retention options.
  • For character house retention, with a renovated addition or suite, density is reduced from the current 0.75 to proposed 0.65
  • Character houses with infill only are at 0.85 while multiplexes are proposed at 1.0 FSR.
Reference materials:

How to send letters and sign up to speak at the Public Hearing:

Send letters to be counted in the Public Hearing record:

Request to speak to Council, by phone or in person at City Hall:

Send letters also directly to Council:

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], , [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected],[email protected]

Please sign up to speak, send a letter to Council and spread the word!
Renters’ mayor or developers’ mayor?

Renters’ mayor or developers’ mayor?

Renters’ mayor or developers’ mayor? Kennedy Stewart is in a political pickle after homeless writer’s discovery

Tuesday (September 13) was supposed to be a good-news day for Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

He unveiled an ambitious housing plan promising 220,000 new homes over 10 years. That includes 140,000 market rental, below-market rental, social housing, and cooperative-housing units.

The rest would be new ground-oriented homes and full market condos.

Unfortunately for his Forward Together party, this announcement came on the same day that a homeless writer, Stanley Q. Woodvine, came across an astonishing document.

It lists 26 development-industry executives as “Captains” in a fundraising initiative. It shows how much money they’re expected to raise in 2022. Collectively, these development-industry executives have a goal of generating more than $300,000.

If this turns out to be a Forward Together party fundraising document, some of the prime beneficiaries of his housing plan are the very people passing around the hat raising money for his reelection.

Some of the “captains” identified in the document are likely to benefit from the Broadway Plan, which could lead to mass evictions in an area bounded by Vine Street, Clark Drive, 16th Avenue, and 1st Avenue.

Woodvine found the document outside a No Frills store on West Broadway.

Stewart’s party has not explicitly admitted that this spreadsheet was created by someone with Forward Together.

But there is certainly circumstantial evidence. The name “Neil” shows up, as do the initials “NM”. Stewart’s chief of staff is Neil Monckton.

There are also some names on the list with past associations with the NDP, which is a party that Stewart has represented in the past and which Monckton has worked very hard to elect.

They include former B.C. NDP presidents Moe Sihota and Craig Keating.

Lists like this have probably been created by many political campaigns over the years, including for rival parties of Stewart’s Forward Together.

But here’s where it’s going to get especially difficult for the mayor.

First off, the B.C. government introduced campaign-finance reforms that limit individual donations to just over $1,200 each year.

The Straight has already reported that family members of Stewart’s buddies in the development industry have donated generously to his campaign while remaining within the legal limit.

I predict that by the end of today, someone is going to demand an investigation into the Forward Together fundraising operation. Even if that probe finds nothing untoward, it will still leave a stain on Stewart’s campaign in what’s going to be a close election.

Here’s another problem for Forward Together. The document shows that many emails were sent. This suggests that there’s a paper trail that will help anyone investigating this situation.

There’s a bigger concern for Stewart and his team, though. And that’s if Elections B.C. forwards the file to the B.C. RCMP for an investigation. That’s what happened when there were allegations that a former B.C. Liberal MLA in Vancouver-Fraserview, Kash Heed, had done an end run around election-financing laws.

Heed was never charged. A special prosecutor cleared him of wrongdoing. But Heed was finished in provincial politics, serving only one term.

Only now, nearly a decade later, Heed is attempting a political comeback as a council candidate in Richmond.

The mere whiff of a police investigation during an election campaign can be devastating.

Former prime minister, Paul Martin, discovered this in late 2005 when the RCMP revealed that it was probing his government’s handling of income trusts. This investigation came as a result of complaints by opposition politicians.

Martin’s then finance minister, Ralph Goodale, was cleared of wrongdoing, but the Liberals were bounced out of office by the voters after 12 years in power.

Then, there are the optics. Stewart has positioned himself as the renters’ mayor. But it’s quite possible that in the wake of Woodvine’s discovery, he could be labelled as the developers’ mayor.

Cartoonists working for other campaigns might have a lot of fun with this.

That’s to say nothing of the impact on the B.C. Greens, OneCity Vancouver, Vision Vancouver, and the Coalition of Progressive Electors.

None of these parties fielded a candidate for mayor, creating a smoother ride for Stewart among progressive voters.

Stewart returned the favour by running a slate of six council candidates, including his wife and his communications staffer. It’s resulted in a more crowded field, making it harder for members of the B.C. Greens, OneCity Vancouver, Vision Vancouver, and COPE slates to get elected to council.

In fact, Stewart’s decision to run a slate of candidates could result in an ABC Vancouver majority on council because of vote splits on the centre-left and left.

Whoever decided to list 26 development-industry executives as “captains” on a party fundraising document—if that’s indeed the case—needs their head examined. It would be an incredibly stupid thing to do. Utterly asinine.

While there’s no indication at this stage that any illegal acts occurred, it might not matter anyway. Especially if it contributes to the end of Stewart’s reign as mayor after just a single term in office.

Description of the Vancouver Plan

Description of the Vancouver Plan


The Vancouver Plan includes new development building typologies applied throughout the city without applying neighbourhood-based planning principles or responding to local context.

The 230-page report effectively changes housing and development across the whole city

  • Significantly increases higher density development across the city
  • New regional designations for Major Transit Growth Corridors along existing bus routes
  • Expanded transit development corridors and areas
  • Development growth targeted near neighbourhood centres up to 12 storeys on side streets
  • 12 -18 storeys close to stations with high towers +25 storeys on stations and major projects
  • Multiplexes are allowed throughout RS and RT zones covering the rest of the city
  • Little to no reference to neighbourhood character or heritage buildings
  • Incorporates major plans such as Broadway Plan, Jericho Lands, etc.
  • Overrides Community Plans and Visions
  • Unrealistic growth promoting housing targets that are not based on transparent data evidence


Census Data should inform Vancouver planning

Census Data should inform Vancouver planning

Census data should inform Vancouver planning

The 2021 Census confirms Vancouver is building more new units than required for population growth

Downtown Vancouver is now the densest in Canada according to the 2021 Census | Photo: Submitted

The recently released 2021 Census data confirms that there is more housing supply being built than required by population growth in Vancouver.  This needs to inform the major planning initiatives currently underway across the city.

Population growth continues at about one percent per year, at 4.9 percent over the last five years 2016 to 2021, increased to 660,000 people, consistent with the pace over the last 40 years. Yet dwelling growth over the last five years has increased 6.1 percent.  Vancouver continues to have over 23,000 empty dwellings unoccupied by usual residents.

The built housing supply is 20 percent higher than the rate of population growth. However, the cost of housing over that same period has continued to escalate, demonstrating that just adding more supply will not make housing more affordable.

In fact, if growth is not done carefully, it has the unintended consequences of inflating land values and making the situation worse, as we are currently experiencing.  Development in the approval pipeline is already decades ahead of population growth, contrary to the supply deficit narrative.

Downtown Vancouver is now the most densely populated in Canada with 18,837 inhabitants per square kilometre in the 2021 Census. For comparison, Manhattan, New York, is 28,668 in 2020. Other top place Canadian cities are Toronto, 16,608; Montréal, 8,367; Calgary, 7,778; and Hamilton, 6,939.

The densest cities also tend to have more extremes in poverty and wealth and gaps in infrastructure.

Vancouver neighbourhoods are already having amenity deficits. Many local schools are at full capacity, such as downtown. Competition for entrance by lottery, often forces unlucky students to commute across town.

The city has not kept up with promised amenities for rezoned areas such as Norquay, Fraser Lands, and Marpole. The Cambie Corridor doesn’t have enough servicing , such as sewers, for the rezoned capacity. There are billions of dollars of infrastructure and amenities required for even what has already been rezoned, plus what is proposed.

The Broadway Plan and Jericho Lands are well beyond what is required for population growth without consideration of impacts on local context.

Other rampant spot rezoning policies also have no local area planning attached to them as they are broad and random. This includes the recently approved rental rezoning policies for on and off arterials citywide. Same with the mayor’s recently proposed 6 strata units on all RS lots pilot for 2000 projects of 10,000 units.

Development only covers a small percentage of the actual costs of related infrastructure. And in the case of rental housing, most development fees are reduced or exempted. So most of these costs must be carried by property taxes and capital debt financing. Taxes contribute to the costs of living.

Increasingly, the city is also having to cover responsibilities of the provincial and federal governments for underfunded housing and social programs, with policing and emergency services filling the gaps.

These impacts will increase the denser the city becomes, with more people being displaced,  as we are experiencing downtown and other upzoned neighbourhoods.

While growth is inevitable, there is a choice as to how this is done. The challenge is to do it in a way that provides the needed housing, without overwhelming  existing infrastructure. This requires incremental growth at a scale that new needed infrastructure can be affordably provided without inflating land values.

These are the fundamentals of planning for a livable, affordable and sustainable city, not just unlimited growth promotion. Shifting from the Livable Region Strategic Plan to the Regional Growth Strategy in 2011, was a mistake as things have deteriorated exponentially since then.

There are limits to growth and this needs to be discussed. Not the polarized all-or-nothing labeling of NiMBY vs. YIMBY narrative that shuts down rational thinking.

Instead, we can have more multiplexes in a form that suites each neighbourhood, ensuring that the needed amenities and services are provided with it.

For example, zoning should be incentivizing more multiple secondary suites, duplexes, multiplex strata units and infill with character house retention like the RT zones. But it needs to consider each neighbourhood’s existing lot sizes, building types and related local context for conversions and new multifamily.

The census data confirms that population growth is consistently about one percent per year. That can easily be provided for at a livable scale that fits in every neighbourhood, including options for co-ops and social housing.

But there are no quick fixes. It requires doing the neighbourhood-based planning work with meaningful local community involvement, for a livable, affordable and sustainable future for all.

Elizabeth Murphy is a private sector project manager and was formerly a property development officer for the City of Vancouver’s Housing & Properties Department and for BC Housing.

[email protected]