Breaking news in Vancouver’s housing landscape: The Vancouver City Council has given the green light to the “Middle Missing Policy,” ushering in a paradigm shift that allows for the development of up to 8 residences on a single-family lot.
Under this policy, homeowners and developers can now embark on the construction of strata ownership multiplexes, consisting of as many as four units on a standard single-family lot, up to five units on a mid-size single-family lot, and a maximum of six units on larger single-family lots. The overarching aim is to make these dwellings more financially accessible when compared to traditional single-family detached houses. The policy imposes a maximum density limit of 1.0 FAR (Floor Area Ratio) and permits structures to reach a maximum height of 37.7 feet, spanning up to three storeys.
Furthermore, this policy will reduce the maximum building floor area for single-family detached houses on a lot by approximately 14% relative to the lot’s size. This reduced density will be redirected to laneway houses, potentially resulting in a staggering 56% increase in the maximum building floor area for these laneway structures. However, concerns have arisen regarding the potential impact on multigenerational households that prefer to reside within the primary residence.
For instance, for a typical single-family lot measuring 33 feet in width (street frontage) and 122 feet in length (depth), the maximum floor area of the main house will decrease from the current limit of 2,800 square feet to 2,400 square feet.
Maximum number of units is 3 to 6 units on most RS lots (up to 4 units on a standard lot,
5 units on mid-size lots, 6 units on larger lots or 8 units for secured rental housing).
• Maximum height is 3 storeys and 11.5 m (37.7 ft.).
• Maximum Floor Space Ratio (FSR) is 1.0 FSR.
• Vehicle parking is not required, but can be provided at the rear of the lot.
• Bike storage is not required, but a floor area exemption is allowed if provided.
• A density bonus payment or alternative will apply for density above 0.7 FSR.
Many design and configuration options are possible, as illustrated in Appendix M. A more
detailed summary of the proposed regulations for multiplexes is provided in Appendix J.
Multiplexes will be allowed in all RS zones, provided that the lot:
• Is located in an RS zone;
• Has a rear lane (or is double-fronting);
• Has a frontage of 10 m (32.8 ft.) or more;
• Is not within a designated floodplain; and
• Is not a legally designated heritage site.
This marks the most substantial transformation in single-family neighborhoods since Vancouver’s initial introduction of laneway houses back in 2009.
Notably, this signals the beginning of a significant shift away from single-family homes in Vancouver. This autumn, the provincial government is slated to unveil more comprehensive details about its policy, allowing for up to four units on single-family lots throughout the entire province, which will take precedence over local municipal regulations. Earlier this year, the City of Victoria also gave the green light to its own Missing Middle multiplex policy, adding to the momentum of change in the housing landscape.