Vancouver City Council too timid on rescinding duplexes


On Thursday the 15th of November, council voted on a motion put forward by the NPA’s Colleen Hardwick to rescind the previous council’s motion passed in September to blanket rezone all single-family lots in Vancouver for duplexes.

It’s rare that I agree with motions put forward by the NPA; this is one of those rare occasions. I was actually very pleased to see Councillor Hardwick put forward her motion to reverse the duplex zoning.

Vancouver residents have told city council time and again over the years that outright duplex zoning will result in neighbourhoods losing their character. Also, duplex zoning significantly increases even further the already unaffordable price of single family homes in Vancouver. At the very least, the former council, which was dominated by Vision Vancouver, should have referred their duplex proposal to a public hearing to get people’s input before deciding what to do.

With all this in mind, I was quite disappointed to see Councillor Hardwick’s motion defeated 8 to 1. (Mayor Stewart and Councillor Fry were absent.)

Those voting against Councillor Hardwick’s motion put forward a number of reasons for doing so. With the greatest of respect to those councillors, their reasons simply don’t hold up.

One reason given was the need to gather more information though public consultation as this was never done during the earlier round of rezoning. To that I would just say there’s no good reason to leave the duplex zoning in place pending a public hearing.

The other main reason given was to leave the status quo in place, meaning the current duplex zoning, until the process for a much-needed city-wide plan is underway.

I would strongly argue just the opposite. Until the city-wide plan is in place, the real status quo, the original single-family zoning — which is what existed up until Vision’s blanket duplex zoning was approved — should be reinstated.

I appreciate the new council’s desire not to make unnecessary waves, but this approach was far too timid.

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One Response to Vancouver City Council too timid on rescinding duplexes

  1. Anita Romaniuk says:

    I agree. Council and the City Planners seemed to have some utopian vision that people living in single-family residences would somehow come up with the money to renovate into a duplex (remortgage? borrow?) and live in one half, opening up the other half to a renter. However, living in the Cambie Corridor, I know that the property accumulation and resulting price escalation would happen with duplex zoning, just as it happened with townhouse rezoning just a couple of blocks from where I live. The developers had to recover the cost of purchasing the properties and building the townhouses. The result is the better part of a block of townhouses that were advertised at $1.2 million for the cheapest ones – and upwards from there! There is nothing in the duplex zoning legislation that prevents developers buying up a block of single family houses, demolishing them and putting up a whole row of cookie-cutter duplexes, which would then be sold or rented for nosebleed prices. Affordable, not!

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