Vancouver City Council votes to allow multiplexes in single-family neighbourhoods

Vancouver City Council unanimously approved the “Missing Middle” proposal on Thursday, making room for up to six homes to be built on one lot.

The “Missing Middle” proposal brings in new relaxed zoning rules, allowing for multiplexes to be built where single-family detached homes are, some of which are made up of as many as six units.


One City Vancouver Coun. Christine Boyle is calling this move “the biggest land change in decades.” She tells CityNews this is a major step in tackling the city’s ongoing housing crisis.

“We’re really far behind where we need to be going and so it’s incumbent upon this council to be acting a lot more quickly,” she said. “Over the last decade or so, Vancouver has moved to legalize laneway homes and duplexes, moving to allow four-plexes and six-plexes on every lot is — in my understanding — the biggest land use change that we’ve seen many decades in Vancouver, which points to how important this decision is.”

“It fills a huge need across Vancouver to build more accessible housing … the multiplex proposal understood that we need to be building fewer basements and more multi-unit homes that you can access right from the ground floor.”

Over 70 people spoke at the public hearing prior to the vote, and Boyle explains the local speakers shared a common understanding that the city needed to make this kind of change.

“We heard from a lot of residents across the city — renters, homeowners, students, and seniors — who all understood that, in the scale of the housing crisis that we’re challenging, we need to take some big significant steps,” she said, noting that a lot of people even supported the idea of legalizing rental housing in every part of Vancouver.

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The city expects to add 150-200 multiplexes per year, which Abundant Housing Vancouver spokesperson Peter Waldkirch says is nice — but really isn’t enough.

“If you look at a zoning map from 1929 and look at the zoning map today, there hasn’t been that much change — the actual zoning of Vancouver, what’s allowed to be built where has barely changed in 100 years,” he explained.

“Apartments are illegal to build on about 80 per cent of Vancouver’s residential land, so the first step absolutely needs to be to end the ban on apartments.”

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