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Preserving our neighbourhoods: sensitive infill housing as a development option Murphy, David 1994

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PRESERVING OUR NEIGHEOURHOODS: SENSITWE INFILL HOUSING ASA DEVELOPMENT OPTIONByDavid MurphyB.A., The University of British Columbia, 1988A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENT FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTERS OF ARTSINTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESThe School of Community and Regional PlanningWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAAugust 1994© David Murphy, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degreeat the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freelyavailable for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copyingof this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or byhis or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis forfinancial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.David MurphySchool of Community and Regional PlanningThe University of British Columbia6033 Memorial RoadVancouver, B.C.V6T 1W5August 199411ABSTRACTCurrent residential zoning by-laws often discourage alternative housing forms, by strictlyregulating development in single family areas. Despite the social, demographic andeconomic changes over the last two decades, our cities have not experienced a similarlevel of physical change. In the Vancouver region, the amount of residential land zonedfor single family use is not indicative of present household formation. For many, thesingle-family zone reduces access to people and activities.Significant pressures are emerging for change in the pattern of urban residentialdevelopment and urban land use in general. Continued low density fringe developmentis costly and inefficient, for both the individual and society. Yet, increasing residentialdensities in already developed areas presents serious regulatory and political problems,particularly in single-family areas. Higher residential densities contravene many existingbuilding codes, zoning by-laws and official plans, and are often resisted by local residents.This thesis explores some of the opportunities and constraints for infill housing, using theCity of Vancouver as a case study. While various forms of infill are discussed,encompassing a range of scale and meaning, the focus of the study is on small scale infilldevelopment that encourages retention of existing houses and is capable of being built bysmall builders. The evolution of infill as a retention strategy in Vancouver’s inner cityconversion areas is closely examined, as is the growing pressure to intensify inVancouver’s single-family neighbourhoods. The potential of using infill to encourage111housing and streetscape retention in other zones, including single-family districts, is alsoexplored.Pressures to intensify in single family areas are likely to increase, because of high landcosts and because they are convenient to downtown workplaces and activities. Each year,over 1000 single-family houses are demolished in Vancouver and replaced with largerhomes. Most cities, including Vancouver, have regulatory environments that favour newconstruction over preservation. Retention opportunities by way of additions and infihl areachievable if some consideration is given to a review of zoning by-law constraints, witha view to modifying them to the extent necessary to encourage these activities, while atthe same time maintaining adequate standards of safety, service and access. Because ofthe special difficulties of rehabilitation and infill, a successful solution is more likely tobe of finer grain, more responsive and proper to a particular place.Much of the anticipated demand for ground-oriented housing could also be createdthrough intensification activities such as conversion and infihl. The incremental nature ofthese activities is often viewed as the least disruptive form of neighbourhood changebecause it can result in a scale of building which is smaller and more in keeping with asingle-family neighbourhood, while still increasing density in a sensitive manner.Alternative housing forms such as infill may be expected to encounter opposition. It maytake the form of local opposition or inflexibility on the part of administrative authorities.ivBy definition, innovative projects do not operate within the existing boundaries ofadministrative or political control, and are thus vulnerable to opportunistic attack. If thereis to be innovation, then politicians and bureaucrats will have to eliminate many existinghurdles, and acquire a sense of experimentation themselves. Effective approaches tourban infill can help unlock land located near working areas that are already fullyserviced, and may provide lower priced ground-oriented housing in a market that iscurrently beyond the financial reach of many households.The variety of household forms that are emerging will require a variety of solutions.Alternative housing must be affordable, accessible, and provide opportunities for sharingand support. A more flexible zoning policy may help alleviate current housing pressures,create a more interesting urban form, and promote equality of opportunity and service.VTABLE OF CONTENTS11LIST OF FIGURES. viiACKNOWLEDGEMENT viii1.0 Introduction1.1 Problem Statement1.2 Objectives of Study1.3 Problem Context1.4 Scope1.5 Organization2.0 Infill Housing: A Literature Review2.1 Introduction2.2 Definitions of Infill Housing2.3 The Exclusive Single Family Zone2.4 The Need for Preservation2.5 Inner City Revitalization2.61 The Mark VIII Infill Housing Project2.62 Garden Suites2.63 Affordability and Choice Today (ACT)2.64 Sustainable Infill Housing2.7 Advantages and Disadvantages of Infill Housing2.8 Summary3.0 Sensitive Infihl Housing in the Context of Vancouver’s3.1 Changing Urban Circumstances3.11 Geographic Trends3.12 Demographic Trends3.13 Housing Affordability3.2 Comprehensive Intensification Plans3.21 Burnaby’s Compaction Plan3.22 The Vancouver Plan3.23 Vancouver’s CityPlan3.3 Summary2.6 Public Sector InitiativesABSTRACTTABLE OF CONTENTSV1233457771016212325283133364345454648555860616366Growthvi4.0 Infill Housing Potential in Vancouver 684.1 Zoning Provisions for Infill Housing 684.2 The Evolution of Infill as a Retention Strategy 694.3 Infill Initiatives in Single-Family Neighbourhoods 914.31 Thin Houses 914.32 Infill and Heritage Retention 944.33 Rezoning Single-Family Neighbourhoods for Infill 984.4 Future Infill Opportunities in Single-Family Zones 1075.0 Findings and Conclusions 1155.1 Determining a Future Role for Infill 1155.2 Recommendations 118References 121viiLIST OF FIGURESFigure 2.1 Mark VIII Infill Housing Project 27Figure 2.2 Garden Suites 29Figure 2.3 Healthy Housing Design Competition: Vancouver Entry 34Figure 2.4 Healthy Housing Design Competition: Toronto’s CODICILE . . . 35Figure 3.1 Population Change, Vancouver Area, 1971 - 1991 49Figure 3.2 Growing Number of Households, Vancouver, 1971 - 1991 50Figure 3.3 Average Household S z e 51Figure 3.4 Family and Non-Family Households 52Figure 3.5 Size of Household 53Figure 3.6 Age Distribution in the City of Vancouver 54Figure 3.7 Apartment Vacancy Rates 56Figure 3.8 Median Housing Prices - City of Vancouver 57Figure 4.1 Vancouver’s Neighbourhoods 70Figure 4.2 Historic Infill in Strathcona 75Figure 4.3 Kitsilano: Rear-Lot Infill 79Figure 4.4 West Mount Pleasant: Heritage Building with Infill 83Figure 4.5 Mega House at Columbia Street and West 15th Avenue 84Figure 4.6 Heritage “Retention” in Fairview Slopes 85Figure 4.7 Side-Lot Infill: First Shaughnessy 89Figure 4.8 A Vancouver Thin House 93Figure 4.9 3846 West 10th Avenue 95Figure 4.10 Context Plan of Infill Development at 3846 West 10th Avenue . . 96Figure 4.11 Technical Analysis: Infill at 3846 West 10th Avenue 97Figure 4.12 Orientation on Typical RS-1B Site 100Figure 4.13 8400 Block of Victoria Drive 101Figure 4.14 Site at 6120 MacDonald Street 102Figure 4.15 Subdivision Proposals: 6120 MacDonald Street 103Figure 4.16 Context Plan of Infill Development at 6120 MacDonald Street . . 105Figure 4.17 6320 Larch Street, After the Clearcut 110viiiACKNOWLEDGEMENTI would like to dedicate this thesis to my wife Donna. Without her support andencouragement (and occasional typing), it would not have been possible to finish thisstudy.I am also grateful to my thesis advisors, Michael Seelig and Penny Gurstein, who weremore than generous in working with me on such short notice.11.0 IntroductionThere is a growing awareness and concern in Vancouver about housing shortages ingeneral, and particularly the availability of appropriate and affordable housing. The natureof families and households has changed dramatically over the last two decades, with manyhouseholds requiring smaller and more affordable accommodation.Resolution of these issues is becoming more difficult and complex. An effective responsewill have to encompass a range of housing initiatives. One of the options that is gainingimportance in this regard is residential (or housing) intensification, which refers to theprocess of increasing the number of units within a community by making better use ofland and the existing housing stock. Intensification can be accomplished through theconcept of homesharing, the addition of accessory apartments by way of conversion, orthrough the processes of infill, subdivision or redevelopment.The variety of housing produced through intensification initiatives may help people ofdifferent ages and incomes live and stay in their neighbourhoods as their age and lifestylechanges. However, many residents are apprehensive about housing intensification, fearingthat neighbourhoods will undergo dramatic and adverse change. In some neighbourhoodsand in some instances, these fears will be valid. At the same time, there is considerableevidence demonstrating that housing intensification can be successfully integrated withinexisting communities.21.1 Problem StatementAs Vancouver heads into the 21st century, it is becoming apparent that significantpressures are emerging for change in urban residential development and urban land usein general. Current housing practices do not make efficient use of land or resources andcreate a host of secondary environmental problems.Future residential growth must be accommodated in more energy efficient land usepatterns. Infill housing may be a partial solution to the housing problem presented byVancouver’s growing population. In a 1981 study done for the Canadian government onurban infihl, it was revealed that infihl housing could accommodate up to fifty percent ofthe housing needs in municipalities, and that residents of infihl projects could save up tothirty percent of living costs due to decreases in transportation expenditures.Municipalities reap economic benefits as well, not only through an increased tax base, butthrough the use of schools and other services which are already in place.’This study explores some of the opportunities and constraints for infill housing, using theCity of Vancouver as a case study. While various forms of infill are discussed,encompassing a range of scale and meaning, the focus of the study is on small scale infihldevelopment that encourages retention of existing houses and is capable of being built bysmall builders. The evolution of infill as a retention strategy in Vancouver’s inner cityconversion areas is closely examined, as is the growing pressure to intensify in1. Mary Jane Copps, Economic Benefits Reaped from Infill”, Canadian Building. October, 1986, p.16.3Vancouver’s single-family neighbourhoods. The potential of using infill to encouragehousing and streetscape retention in other zones, including single-family districts, is alsoexplored.1.2 Objectives of StudyThe primary objectives of this study are:a. to gain a better understanding of the occurrence of infill housing and thearguments for and against it;b. to examine individual aspects of infill housing in a broader context, usingthe City of Vancouver as a case study; andc. to identify opportunities for and constraints upon the creation of infillhousing in Vancouver’s single-family neighbourhoods.1.3 Problem ContextVancouver is part of a region that is expected to grow by 1.2 million people and 700,000jobs over the next thirty years. Most of the regions growth will take place outside ofVancouver, but the City’s population is expected to grow by 160,000 people by the year2021. In that period, Vancouver will need to add about 100,000 housing units, anincrease of 50 percent over that available in 1991 •2 While two-thirds of this housinggrowth will be accommodated in high-density projects that the City has already approved,the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) believes that Vancouver will need to2. City of Vancouver Planning Department, Making Choices. 1994.4provide additional ground-oriented housing to meet the varying needs of the regionsgrowing population.Much of this future ground-oriented housing could be created through intensificationactivities such as conversion and infihl. The incremental nature of these activities isviewed as the least disruptive form of neighbourhood change because it can result in ascale of building which is smaller and more in keeping with a single-familyneighbourhood, while, still increasing density in a sensitive manner. Approximately 70percent of Vancouver’s urban land area is zoned for single-family housing, an unusuallyhigh percentage for a city its size. Pressures to intensify in the single family districts arelikely to increase, because of high land costs and because they are convenient todowntown workplaces and activities.1.4 ScopeAs Vancouver is the only municipality in the Lower Mainland that has zoning that allowsfor secondary infill dwellings on single lots, the study will be restricted to the city itself.New housing in the remainder of the Lower Mainland tends to be concentrated in mediumto high-density developments around regional town centres, and in new single-familysubdivisions.The study will be from a design and environmental perspective, with the primary focuson housing retention. Housing affordability is only looked at in relative terms. In5general, infill activity in Vancouver does not lead to low-cost housing and in some casesis more expensive. Although existing services are in place, high land costs in the cityprohibit affordability. Infill offers home-ownership opportunities to moderate-incomehouseholds, but does not address the problems of lower income groups. The opportunityfor home ownership will continue to be beyond the grasp of a large segment of thepopulation. Affordable housing in Vancouver must come through government subsidies,and through other means of intensification, such as the creation of new rental units fromthe existing housing stock through conversion.1.5 OrganizationChapter 2 examines literature on the subject of infihl, with emphasis on initiatives outsideof the Vancouver area. Some attention is paid to exclusionary zoning and housingretention in general. Much of the American literature pertains to infill as a renewalstrategy in inner city neighbourhoods. In the Canadian literature, infill is examined at asmaller scale, with an emphasis on detached secondary units, such as rear-lot infill. Thetwo major constraints on infihl housing, neighbourhood resistance and the regulatoryenvironment, will be briefly discussed.Chapter 3 examines infihl in the context of Vancouver’s growth, by reviewing some of thehistorical, demographic and economic factors that have shaped the city. Comprehensiveintensification plans which proposed infill as one of a variety of housing alternatives willalso be examined.6Chapter 4 looks at some of the current zoning provisions for infill in Vancouver. Theevolution of infihl as a retention strategy will be examined. The emphasis is on small-scale infill, where a detached secondary dwelling is added to the side or rear portion ofa lot already containing an existing dwelling. The potential of using infill to encouragehousing and streetscape retention in other zones, including single-family districts, is alsoexplored. A current rezoning application in a single-family neighbourhood, in which fiveinfihl dwellings are proposed to be added to a large west side estate, will be used as a casestudy. It will look at plans that have been introduced, the public planning process and thegeneral response towards this proposal.Finally, Chapter 5 will summarize the major findings, and conclude with observationsfrom the case study. The future of the single-family zone in Vancouver is also discussed.72.0 Infill Housing: A Literature Review2.1 IntroductionMuch of the literature pertaining to infill focusses on residential intensification as a whole.Infill and secondary suites are the two forms receiving the most attention. Although thesetwo forms of development are different in nature, many of the opportunities andconstraints upon them are similar.While the focus of this study is on small scale infil development such as rear lot infill,the regulatory environment in most cities prohibits this form of development. Most of theCanadian literature on infill focusses on making more intensive and efficient use of vacantland, especially on sites that were by-passed in the course of normal development.American literature on infill tends to emphasize neighbourhood revitalization, particularlyin older, inner-city neighbourhoods. In this context, infill is a process of filling in thegaps left by the selective demolition caused by urban renewal, or by abandonment. Whilethis chapter will briefly examine other forms of infill, the emphasis will be on small scaledevelopment where detached dwellings are added to sites already containing housing.2.2 Definitions of Infifi HousingInfill is a form of residential (or housing) intensification, which refers to the process ofincreasing the number of housing units within a community by making better use of theexisting housing stock, and by making more efficient and effective use of the existing8urban infrastructure. Other types of intensification include the concept of homesharing,the addition of accessory apartments by way of conversion, or the processes ofsubdivision and redevelopment.Definitions of infihl are varied, representing a range of scale and meaning. The size ofan infill project can vary from large mixed-use developments covering several city blocks,to attached accessory units added to an existing dwelling. At an infill seminar held at theUniversity of Winnipeg in 1982, infill housing was characterized as being foundanywhere there is new construction and that new construction neither alters, neitherdetracts, nor adds to the infrastructure that is already there’.’ The Real Estate ResearchCorporation (RERC) defines infill as the process of developing “vacant, skipped-overparcels of land in otherwise built up areas”.2The Metropolitan Toronto Planning Department defines infill as the construction of smallscale new housing within existing residential areas on sites usually less than 2.0 hectares(5.0 acres), using vacant or underutilized land in a form which is physically integratedinto the neighbourhood. It can include building on vacant parcels of land, buildingadditional dwellings on lots which already contain housing, and replacement of existingground related buildings with residential structures (four storeys or less) in a manner1. Institute of Urban Studies, Proceedings of the Infihl Housing Seminar, University of Winnipeg, December 16, 1982.Winnipeg: Institute of Urban Studies, 1982, p. 2.2. Real Estate Research Corporation, Infihl Development Strategies. Washington, D.C.: Urban Land Institute and theAmerican Planning Association, 1982, p. 1.9compatible with surrounding development.3Although conventional construction on vacant sites comes within many definitions ofinfill, developments that tend to dominate their immediate surroundings or create aninternal environment separate from the neighbourhood are a form of redevelopment, butnot really infill. Infill is distinguished from other forms of development by the emphasisplaced on relating the design to its surrounding context.The term “infill” has emerged as part of the preservation vocabulary, as it is linkeddirectly to the revitalization of urban neighbourhoods. Small scale, sensitive infillencourages owners to maintain existing properties and helps neighbourhoods adapt tochange. Sensitive infill development respects the physical character of a neighbourhoodand is compatible with its social, economic, historical and cultural context.4 Peter BarnardAssociates defined sensitive infill as “low rise development on small scale sites requiringlittle or no demolition of residential units and capable of being built by small builders.Such development conforms in all other respects to the existing scale and character of theneighbourhood.”5Infill housing is sometimes viewed as a process of urban renewal. Rehabilitation of3. Metropolitan Toronto Planning Department, Housing Intensification Resource Kit. 1989, p. 4.4. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, New Housing in Existing Neighbourhoods: Advisory Document. Ottawa:Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 1982, p. 2.5. Peter Barnard Associates, Sensitive Infihl Housing: Summary Report. Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and HousingCorporation, 1981, p. 1.1.10structures that can still be salvaged and infihl development on vacant or underutilized sitescan help revitalize inner cities experiencing urban decay and population decline. In thiscontext, infill housing is the opposite of slum clearance and displacement. It representsthe integration of buildings, and their residents, into the existing social fabric, not theirseparation and exclusion.6Regardless of scale, new infill housing occurs in a context of existing buildings, whetherthey are on the development site itself or nearby. There is no major visual impact ordetriment to the neighbourhood, and demolition of buildings is kept to a minimum. Thescale of infill development may vary from the addition of attached accessory units ordetached secondary dwellings in the side or rear yards of lots containing an existingdwelling, to new housing on vacant or underutilized sites that were by-passed in thecourse of normal development, or abandoned in a period of urban decline. In all cases,an intensification of use, of population and of buildings is involved.2.3 The Exclusive Single Family ZoneZoning enjoys wide popular support, mainly because it has always been an effectivemeans of discouraging change. To no on&s surprise, zoning is perhaps most popular withthose who live in single-family detached houses, the land use that zoning protects mostfiercely. And for this reason, zoning is politically important as well. Local publicofficials know that voters look to zoning as a key means of protecting the value of their6. Peter Marcuse, in G. Hermanuz, Reweaving the Urban Fabric: Approaches to Infill Housing. New York: PrincetonArchitectural Press, 1988, p. 9.11homes and the closely guarded character of their communities.7Under typical zoning ordinances, local elected officials exercise a great deal of power indetermining the direction and magnitude of changes in land use in their jurisdictions.They thus have a stake in continuing the traditional model, which offers manyopportunities for legislation manipulation and negotiation. Zoning is also popular withthe courts, which have repeatedly reviewed and accepted the rationale for controlling landdevelopment by this method.Because zoning was often predicated on providing for the apex of the land use pyramid,the single-family house, it often fails to accommodate new demands for more variedhousing types. Other housing types are often consigned to “commercial districts andtheir designs given short shrift in regulatory provisions. Although many types ofapartment units, townhouses and other attached forms of housing gained a large share ofthe housing market during the 1960’s and 1970’s, the need for more creative site planning,flexible lot standards and shared ownership of open space presented problems fortraditional zoning.8 The conventional conception of zoning as a prescriptive, staticmechanism fails to cope with the ever-changing world of development.Most communities employ various forms of exclusionary zoning, either deliberately or7. Douglas Porter, P. Phillips and T. Lasser. Flexible Zoning: How It Works. Washington: The Urban Land Institute,1988, p.3.8. Ibid, p. 7.12not, including requirements for large lot sizes, lengthy approval processes that raise thecost of development, or simply a lack of land zoned for higher-density uses. The effectin many jurisdictions is to deny access to all but the affluent.9Exclusionary zoning has fostered a torrent of legal activity. State courts, which oncetended to uphold zoning as a legitimate means for retaining the character of a community,have shown less tolerance for patently exclusionary practices. New Jersey’s SupremeCourt, in the Mount Laurel decisions, has ruled that all developing areas in that state mustaccept a reasonable share of their surrounding regions housing needs. Pennsylvania’sSupreme Court has mandated a similar requirements.’°In another response to exclusionary concerns, some cities and suburbs have enacted so-called “inclusionary” zoning provisions that require some proportion of lower-costdwelling units in new residential developments. Although these programs have producedsome lower-cost units, some critics charge that the programs avoid the real problem ofexclusionary zoning practices. For example, William Fischel argues that inclusionaryzoning can be viewed as a device for fending off legal attacks for exclusionary actions.’1Apart from the criticisms of how zoning unduly restricts the use of a particular site are9. Ibid, p. 9.10. Ibid, p. 9.11. William Fischel. The Economics of Zoning Laws: A Property Rights Approach to American Land Use Controls.Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1985, p. 328.13concerns for the development patterns and individual buildings that such ordinances haveproduced. At the community scale, critics have charged that overly restrictive zoning islargely responsible for suburban sprawl. Overly stringent density controls in close-insuburbs, they argue, drive up the cost for close-in land, thereby making cheaper, moredistant land more attractive for development. The savings in land costs on more remotesites outweigh their locational disadvantages or lack of infrastructure, and the result is a‘leap-frog” pattern of growth. Restrictive zoning also tends to frustrate attempts toredevelop sites in already built-up areas.12 In many cities, available lots for infill may besubject to constrained physical circumstances that make it difficult for the builder ordesigner to meet municipal standards.13The basic weakness, therefore, of traditional zoning, is its inability to accommodatechanges in household formation and market demands. Because of this, many planners andcommunities are looking towards more flexible zoning systems. The hallmark of flexiblezoning is the employment of performance standards to determine appropriate uses anddevelopment designs for parcels of land. Flexible zoning ordinances incorporateperformance standards for land uses, site design, and building characteristics and provideadministrative mechanisms that minimize discretionary actions by public officials. Afundamental goal of flexible zoning systems is to reduce the financial burden posed to thepublic sector by new development. This goal can take the form of encouraging a land use12. Porter, Phillips and Lassar, p. 10.13. John Archer. Planning For Infill Housing, Habitat. Vol. 25, No. 2, p. 14-19.14pattern that will use existing and future infrastructure systems most efficiently,encouraging uses that contribute to the tax base while requiring relatively small amountsof public services, or shifting some infrastructure costs to the private sector.14A more flexible zoning system could lead to more effective approaches to urban infill, byunlocking land located near working areas that is already fully serviced. Infilldevelopment not only makes more efficient use of land and the existing infrastructure, buthas secondary benefits such as reduced energy and fuel consumption, and a reduction incommuter related car exhaust. However, despite the changing social and economicconditions and the various benefits to be derived, many intensification initiatives have notgained wide acceptance or popularity. It is a sensitive matter in many single-familyneighbourhoods because residents often fear that too much change will occur and that thequality of life will therefore deteriorate.Despite these concerns, changes to single-family zoning appear inevitable. In Ontario, theInclusive Neighbourhoods Campaign (INC), is advocating changes to the OntarioPlanning Act that would allow secondary suites in every municipality across the Province,as long as they meet building and safety standards. The INC does not feel proposedchanges to the Planning Act go far enough to rectify discrimination in zoning. That is,municipal zoning practices have resulted in neighbourhoods of single family dwellingsthat effectively exclude individuals who cannot buy or rent a home in these areas. The14. Ibid, p. 15-63.15INC defines such zoning practices as exclusionary and a violation of rights under theCanadian Charter of Rights and Freedom and the Ontario Human Rights Code.’5The central concept of inclusionary zoning is the legislation or means introduced to ensurethat affordable housing is available in all areas of a city. Inclusionary housing evolvedin the United States in the 1970’s and 1980’s as a direct response to increasingly poorhousing conditions, poverty and racial segregation which pervaded extensive urban areas.Inclusionary programs are currently in place in many communities in the United States,but are most prevalent in California and New Jersey. Inclusionary zoning for affordablehousing is a land development control measure, enacted by way of municipal by-law,which generally requires that a certain portion of units within any new multiple-unitresidential development project to be set aside for low and moderate income householdsat below market prices or rents. Some programs mandate developer participation as acondition of development or rezoning approval while others encourage developers toparticipate on a voluntary basis through density bonuses and other developmentincentives 16The City of Toronto is studying the adoption of mandatory inclusionary zoning programas part of its official plan review process, and as part of the city’s commitment to theProvincial Policy Statement on Land Use Planning for Housing which mandates the15. Dianne Urquhart, Inclusive Neighbourhoods Campaign, The Intensification Report. July-August, 1993, p. 23.16. City of Toronto. Inclusionary Zoning Study for Housing in the City of Toronto. City of Toronto Planning andDevelopment Department, 1991, p. 1.16creation of affordable housing. The Policy Statement has three fundamental objectives :17i) to provide a range and mix of housing types in new residential development;ii) to require municipalities and planning boards to establish appropriate planningpolicies and standards which will enable at least 25 percent of residential unitsresulting from new residential development and residential intensification throughconversion of non-residential structures, infihl and redevelopment to be affordablehousing; andiii) to increase the supply of housing through residential intensification to make betteruse of resources, buildings or serviced sites as well as meet changing demographictrends and housing demands, and to require municipalities to adopt a strategy tomake use of those opportunities.In California, the Mello bill passed in 1981 sets guidelines for local government regulationof secondary units in all residential zoning districts of California, including exclusivesingle-family districts. Under this law, a local jurisdiction cannot prohibit secondary unitconversions in single-family zones unless it can present sufficient evidence to show thatconversions would endanger the public health, safety or welfare of residents in thecommunity. If such evidence cannot be presented, the bill stipulates that a localjurisdiction must adopt zoning regulations and procedures for approving applications byproperty owners who wish to install secondary units in their homes.’82.4 The Need for PreservationAccording to Michael Kiuckner, a prominent Vancouver heritage advocate, the politicsand economics in Vancouver over the past decade have accelerated the pace of re17. Ibid.18. Martin Gellen. Accessory Apartments in Single Family Housing. New Brunswick, N.J.: New Jersey Centre forUrban Policy Research, p. 133 - 134.17development in a manner that is threatening our ability to see the city’s roots and topreserve the physical evidence of our collective past - the buildings and streetscapes ofthe old parts of the city ... Most attempts by citizens to save and restore buildings andtrees have been thwarted by the laissez-faire attitudes of the civic and provincialgovernments” 19Speculation in real estate has always been part of Vancouver’s history, which perhaps isthe reason buildings have been a secondary concern among it’s citizens, and are oftentreated as disposable commodities. The conventional wisdom has always been thatbecause the city has such a glorious and dramatic natural setting, buildings are asecondary concern.20Existing housing can be preserved, if there are incentives or options to do so. Theretention of existing houses has several obvious advantages. Resources are conserved byreuse, although it is not always true that money costs are minimized. Given efficienciesof scale and current construction practices, it may be cheaper to clear a site, discard oldbuildings and rebuild anew. However, these financial calculations take no account ofresource depletion, social loss, personal anguish or political resistance. Reuse in a settledneighbourhood is supported by a web of services already in place, not only of urbaninfrastructure and public facilities but the network of human relations and activities whose19. Michael Kiuckner, Vanishing Vancouver. North Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 1991, p. 11.20. Ibid., p.11.18disruption is such a serious cost in any new settlement.2’ When a neighbourhood isravaged by demolitions, any sense of continuity is lost.The conception of neighbourhood is seen to possess social and psychological features inaddition to its physical qualities. The sociallpsychological features include symbolic andcultural aspects of the neighbourhood; shared activities and experiences resulting in socialgroupings, common values and loyalties, and activities engaged in by neighbours termedneighbouring”22 In this light, neighbourhoods are more than the basis upon which localservices and facilities are delivered - they come shared situations within which residentshave a role to play and a set of responsibilities to fill.In many ways, neighbourhoods are an extension of the home. In combination, homesprovide shelter and services as well as social and psychological function for theirresidents. In the words of Kurt Finsterbusch, “Both home and neighbourhood are thesetting for many memories and the objects for emotional attachments. With time, theygive a sense of rootedness, belonging and security.”23The social issue of heritage often becomes an argument about gentrification, because itis often fuelled by powerful class and economic motives. Some criticize the preservation21. Ibid, p. 347.22. Suzanne Keller, The Urban Neighbourhood. New York: Random House, 1968.23. Kurt Finsterbusch, “Residential Habitat: Home and Environment”, Chapter 3 in Understanding Social Impacts:Assessing the Effects of Public Projects. Beverly Hifis: Sage Publications, 1980.19movement on three related counts: first, that it too often displaces the people who livein these areas to be restored; second, that it conveys a false, purified and static view ofhistory, and third, that the values on which the criteria of preservation are based arenarrow and specialist.24Despite these criticisms, the benefits of restoration transcend class boundaries. Inner-cityneighbourhoods previously on the path to disinvestment and abandonment get restored togood use. Expensive physical resources that would otherwise be wasted get reused. Oldbuildings frequently provide affordable rental housing and restoration usually pushes therent out of the reach of the former tenants. But without government intervention in thereal-estate market, the poor will remain dependent on the status quo, whether buildingsare restored or demolished. When old buildings become decrepit, as is the case withmuch of the “affordable” accommodation within the city, there are two options: eitherthey will be demolished or they will be saved. Neither option offers the tenant any hope,and there is no guarantee that accommodation in a renovated old building will be any lessaffordable than accommodation in a new rental building.25It is clear that from an environmental and heritage perspective that the preservation andre-use of heritage buildings in their original location is optimal. From the heritageviewpoint, this preserves the building on it’s original site and from the environmental24. Lynch, p. 259.25. Kiuckner, p. 15.20viewpoint, resources and energy are preserved through re-use. Energy savings arerealized not only by eliminating the need to manufacture and transport new materials butalso by eliminating the costs and energy required for demolition. In addition, whenhistoric properties are re-used, they are normally upgraded to current energy efficiencyand environmental standards.Unfortunately, many cities, including Vancouver, have regulatory environments,particularly in single-family zones, that favour new construction over preservation. It isgenerally much easier to get permits to build new houses than to renovate. Klucknerstates the following in his book Vanishing Vancouver”:Our willingness to allow developers and property owners to ride roughshodover the city’s old neighbourhoods, and to haul its perfectly usable houses,topsoil and mature shrubs and trees in huge trucks to the dump, castsdoubts on our collective ability to preserve wilderness, to manageresources, or to reduce pollution in a way that will sustain the environmentinto the future. What of recycling, when we do not recycle ourbuildings?26Retention opportunities by way of additions and infill are achievable if some considerationis given to a review of zoning by-law constraints, with a view to modifying them to theextent necessary to encourage these activities, while at the same time maintainingadequate standards of safety, service and access. Because of the special difficulties ofrehabilitation and infill, a successful solution is more likely to be of finer grain, moreresponsive and proper to a particular place.26. Kluckner, p. 15.212.5 Inner City RevitalizationUnlike many American cities, the growth of Canadian suburbs generally has not led tothe widespread departure of inner city taxpayers or the outright abandonment of residentialhousing. As a result, the centres of most Canadian urban areas have stayed economically,physically and socially viable. In many, the inner city often contains the most expensiveand desirable housing, although this was not always the case. In contrast, Americandevelopment has seen the inner cities of many major urban centres decline and becomeghettoes for low-income households, minorities, the unemployed, and the homeless.The inner city represents the central core of an urban area. Since it is ordinarily the firstpart of a community to be settled, it contains the oldest housing stock. It is a dense,congested area into which the central district expands, and often functions as the point ofinitial settlement for new groups of immigrants and migrants. Typically, in comparisonto the wider metropolitan area, declining inner cities are marked by these characteristics:27• a smaller proportion of young people and over-representation of the elderly;• lower average household income;• smaller average household size;• higher proportion of people with little education;• higher unemployment rate;• larger proportion of the population foreign-born;• lower proportion of single family homes; and• lower average number of rooms per dwelling, as well as lower average gross rent.In areas of physical decline, the threats of abandonment and transition to non-residentialland uses discourage maintenance and improvement of buildings. Those residents who27. Peter McGahan. Urban Sociology in Canada. Toronto: Butterworth and Co., 1986.22are able to achieve some economic mobility are apt to leave. Among the remainder ofthe population, major social problems are evident.From the late 1940’s until the early 1970ts, many people were displaced from their homesas a result of Urban Renewal programs, in both the U.S. and Canada. In many cases, thismeant mass clearance and reconstruction of physically deteriorating areas. The attemptsto clear slums and relocate residents into modern public housing projects for the most partended in failure. The assumption of many of the planners, architects and otherprofessionals was that slum dwellers would prefer newer housing to older buildings anddisorganized neighbourhoods. What was not understood was the importance of theinformal organizations that flourished in those physically deteriorating neighbourhoods.Furthermore, the likelihood of such organizations emerging in new, socially integratedhousing developments was often overestimated. To residents who valued localcommunity over modern housing, the new developments were worse to live in that theslums they left behind.28By the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, community dissatisfaction with the physical and socialchanges caused by urban renewal led to fundamental policy changes. Communitiesbecame more reluctant to accept solutions imposed by planners and politicians. Manycities started looking for new solutions to revitalize their inner cities. To preserve thedesirable aspects of these areas, plans and policies were developed to encourage the28. Herbert Gans, “Social Planning: A New Role for Sociology”, in R. Gutman and D. Popenoe (eds.)., Neighbourhood,City and Metropolis. New York: Random House, 1970.23retention of existing buildings. It was this environment which served as a catalyst for thedevelopment of infill housing. Infill offered the opportunity to provide socially responsivehousing, affordable to the poor, which would insert itself into the gaps left by theselective demolition caused by Urban Renewal, and later, by abandonment. Infill housing,in this context, defines a building process which seeks to replace missing “teeth” in thefabric of the city. The scale can range from individual buildings and blocks, to wholesections of neighbourhoods.If there is one commonality to the various infill strategies that have emerged throughoutNorth America, it would be the declining inner city. The form of infill that has emergedin Vancouver evolved in response to widespread decline and redevelopment pressures inthe inner-city conversion areas of Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, Fairview Slopes andGrandview-Woodlands. This will be discussed further in Chapter 4.2.6 Public Sector InitiativesThe Canadian Government has initiated many housing programs over the years, usuallyto stimulate the housing market during economic recessions. Housing problems weretreated as temporary aberrations, rather than long term problems, and Canadian housingpolicy focussed on providing incentives, mainly to the private sector, during these periods.These were in the form of direct expenditures, in which the government gave direct cashsubsidies, or indirect expenditures, such as subsidies through the tax system.24With the government focus on deficit reduction, the federal government is now lessinvolved in stimulating housing construction, and has turned over most of its housingprograms to the provincial governments. The focus of the Canada Mortgage and HousingCorporation (CMHC), a federal agency, is now more oriented towards policy, researchand development, and the provision of housing information. However, the CMHC is stillinvolved in areas such as mortgage insurance and mortgage-backed securities, and -programs such as the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP), in whichlow-interest loans are made for the repair of substandard housing, have recently beenextended.Authority for urban planning issues in Canada resides in the municipalities under theconstitutional guide of the provinces. The federal government rarely embarks on nationalprograms that directly relate to municipal planning. However, there are numerous indirectways in which the federal government affects municipal government and planning inCanada: regional grant programs, transfer payments, taxation policies and researchprograms are examples of such direct influences of the federal government. In thisregard, the CMHC continues to participate in research and grant programs that affectCanadian municipal planning and housing.29 Ultimately, however, it is up to localgovernment officials to formulate policies and programs deemed appropriate to the needsof their communities.29. Canadian Urban Institute, Housing Intensification: Policies, Constraints and Options. Toronto: Canadian UrbanInstitute, 1991.252.61 The Mark Viii Infifi Housing ProjectIn the decade that followed World War II, Canada experienced an “urban explosion”.While most metropolitan centres in Canada were growing at an unprecedented rate,Winnipeg was slowing down and crawling to a stand-still. As Winnipeg lost economicground to other western cities such as Vancouver, its role was reduced to being a regionalcentre to a reduced hinterland area - mainly Manitoba. As in many cities, residents leftthe urban core for the outer suburbs, but economic decline also led to net out-migrationto other provinces. By the 1970’s, Winnipeg’s inner city was in a serious state of urbandecline.In 1972, the Institute of Urban Studies examined the feasibility of injecting an infillhousing system into an older residential district.30 First proposed by a homebuildersassociation, the “Mark VIII Infill Housing Project” was an experiment sanctioned andsupported by the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada (HUDAC).The concept, as approved by HUDAC, called for eight to twelve housing units, preferablyin two buildings, to be built in the core area, with the objective of providinghomeownership opportunities to low-income households. An area slated for urbanrenewal was chosen, because a number of residents would be displaced by a highwayoverpass.Initially, the feasibility of constructing rowhouses on double vacant lots was studied, with30. Institute of Urban Studies, Mark VIII Infihl Housing Project, Phase Two Report. Winnipeg: Institute of UrbanStudies, 1973.26the rowhouses running perpendicular to the Street. Eventually, this was discontinued infavour of utilizing only single vacant lots as more of an experimental approach in unitdesign. This approach avoided the demolition of existing houses and the furtherdisplacement of residents.The goal of the project was to develop a flexible system of housing which could exist ona single lot of any variation, and could be expanded to any number of lots. A range ofalternative accommodation types would be provided within the system. Most of the lotswithin the study area were small, ranging in size from 10 by 22 m (33 by 78 ft.) withoutlane access, to 8.5 by 40.2 m (28 by 132 ft.) with lane access. Despite the small lot sizes,various configurations were designed in which three to four modular units would bearranged on a single lot. A decision was made to develop a basic unit which would adaptto either of the major lot types without having to change the design.As a result, an “L” shaped, two and one half storey unit was designed and accepted bythe Mark VIII Committee and a self-help group as a viable solution. Density at three tofour units per lot were felt to be too high; two units, generally detached at the front andrear of the lot, were felt to offer more privacy and yard space. To most of the residents,their image of a ‘new house’ was the single-family detached house on a suburban lot.Residents expressed concern with attached units, as some designs would have blanksidewalls and windows at either end, as well as units with only one window wall. Twounit configurations were felt to be in scale with larger homes in the area, and maintained27front yard setbacks in keeping with existing houses.At public hearings on the zoning variations required, a number of residents opposed theinfihl schemes. Many felt that the projects would adversely affect them, and people haddifficulty visualizing two detached units on a small city lot. Concerns were alsoexpressed about where children would play - that they might play in neighbour’s yards orin the public lane, which would be dangerous. There was also a generalized fear that“Indians” or other low-income residents would move to the area, leading to overcrowding,Figure 2.1 Mark VEil Infill Housing ProjectSite 1: 2 lots, 37’ x 78’, no lane.adjacent to 448 Alexander.Unit siting: 2 detached units oneach lot, one unit atthe front of the lot, oneat the rear with a spacebetween. Two variationson the “court’ conceptwere used.(4 units)Site 2: 1 lot, 33’ x 78’, no lane.Pacific AvenueUnit sitih: 2 semi—detached unitsplaced back—to—back;one facinz the Street,one the rear of the lot.(2 units)Site 3: 1 lot, 27’ x 112’, laneElgia AvenueUnit siting: 2 detached units, one atthe front of the sitefacing the street, one atthe rear of the lot, facingthe front unit. -..,,,(2 units)28noise, litter and personal jeopardy.The Mark VIII project offered many insights into a variety of technical and proceduralmatters in evolving new approaches to urban development. Participants had to overcomedesign and siting problems associated with a new form of housing development, as wellas learn the legalities of housing, financing and the complexities of land acquisition.Educating politicians, bureaucrats and the general public proved to be the biggest hurdle.The Mark VIII project may have also been an influence on the form of infill developmentthat evolved in Vancouver. This is discussed further in Chapter 4.2.62 Garden SuitesAlso known as granny flats, garden suites are a form of back-lot infill, designed toprovide alternative and affordable housing for seniors. The suites are small self-containedhouses that are placed on the same lot as the home of close family members, therebyallowing adult children and close family members to exchange support. The suites arenot intended as permanent additions to the lots and are designed so that they are easilymovable. The garden suite was first developed in Australia, where it has proved to bepopular in both rural and urban areas.31 In the United States, they are commonly referredto as ECHO (Elderly Cottage Housing Opportunity) units. At their best, garden suitesoffer privacy with proximity.31. CMHC: Garden Suites: A New Housing Option for Elderly Canadians. CMHC, 1993.29Following a national demonstration program and survey, CMHC modified four housingassistance programs to enable a limited number of garden suites to be provided on a pilotbasis. Ontario, Alberta and Quebec have also staged demonstration projects to evaluatethe merits of the garden suite concept. Approximately forty garden suites have now beenbuilt in six provinces.Figure 2.2 Garden SuitesMunicipal zoning in most Canadian cities prohibit extra living quarters on a single-familySource: CMHC, Garden Suites: A New Housing Option for Elderly Canadians. Ottawa: CMHC, 1993.30lot. For example, Section 78 of the Alberta Planning Act generally restricts the numberof dwelling units on a lot to one. Exemptions to the operation of this Section may begranted to any person or land by the Alberta Planning Board.32 Where garden suites arenot permitted, it may be possible to obtain an exemption from existing regulations throughmechanisms such as temporary occupancy permits. Ontario and Alberta have produceda model temporary use by-law to be implemented by local governments, which wouldallow additional units on specific lots for renewable three year periods. Proposed changesto the Ontario planning legislation could soon normalize the use of garden suites in thatprovince.Some problems that have been encountered with garden suites include:1. Legal Concerns: Concerns about limiting the suites to specific age groups, whichmay be considered discriminatory and a violation of the Canadian Charter orRights.2. High Costs: Suites have turned out to be more expensive to build that anticipateddue to modifications for Canada’s harsh climate. Subsidies may be required tokeep the suites affordable.3. Questionable Popularity: The Ontario government found that the elderly wereoften less enthusiastic about the suites than the homeowners. One elderly personequated the suites to living “in a dog’s kennel in their kids back yard”.3332. Alberta Municipal Affairs. Alberta Garden Suite Pilot Project: Study to Explore Municipal Issues Related toImplementing a Garden Suite Program. Edmonton, 1991.33. Janet Lee, Responding to Future Housing Needs: Residential Intensification in Single-Family Neighbourhoods.Unpublished M.A. Thesis: University of British Columbia, 1989, p. 47.312.63 Affordabifity and Choice Today (ACT)The CMHC has been involved in a national program to encourage residentialintensification in Canadian metropolitan areas. This program, which was just renewed,is called Affordability and Choice Today (ACT), indicating affordable housing as a fieldof priority. ACT is an initiative of the Canada Homebuilders Association (CHBA), theCanadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA), the Federation of CanadianMunicipalities (FCM), and the CMHC, which provides financial support to the program.ACT is designed to stimulate regulatory reform action in residential construction,particularly in residential intensification. The areas that ACT targets for regulatory reformaction include: land development standards, the land development approval process, andresidential renovation. ACT provides grants to municipalities, the building community,and non-profit housing associations to work together on regulatory reform demonstrationprojects, and projects that streamline the residential development approval process. Casestudies of existing regulatory reform initiatives are also undertaken.34Many of the demonstration projects that have received funding involved infill housing.A project team that included .representatives from the City of Victoria’s Advisory DesignPanel, the B.C. Homebuilders Association and the Urban Development Institute receivedfunding to develop three to five small-lot, infill houses. The purpose of the project wasto demonstrate that under the appropriate set of design and planning guidelines, and34. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Affordability and Choice Today. Fact Sheet, December, 199132zoning amendments, small-lot residential projects could blend in well with existingneighbourhoods. Victoria, which has a shortage of affordable housing and sites forsingle-family development, has had a successful small-lot housing policy since 1982.Houses as small as 3.0 m (10.0 ft) wide have been built on narrow lots. The mainobstacle to this policy has been neighbourhood opposition.The project was divided into two stages. The ACT grant provided funding for Stage 1,which involved researching and analyzing pertinent issues, streamlining the developmentapproval process, and preparing design guidelines and zoning amendments. The focuswas on the provision of development tools for those interested in constructing this typeof housing, and integrating community concerns into the design of small-lot infihl houses.In the second stage, selected sites were rezoned and infill housing constructed on smalllots, demonstrating the viability and practicality of the design guidelines and the amendedzoning. Small-lot infihl housing is less expensive to build, and promotes efficient siteplanning.The city of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, was also awarded an ACT grant topromote small-lot infill development.35 Given a limited land base, and faced withdeclining residential, commercial and industrial activity, the City was looking forinnovative ways to accommodate future housing needs while providing more affordablehousing for its residents. The major obstacle to infihl development was the current zoning35. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Affordability and Clwice Today. Fact Sheet, January, 1993.33by-law, which had been in effect since 1979.The project had several components, including identification of areas suitable for higherdensity development and lower density infihl housing, and preparation of designguidelines. Regulatory areas explored in the development of small-lot infihl housingincluded density, height restrictions, services, site development guidelines, parkingrequirements, and architectural considerations such as privacy, light, and compatibilitywith the streetscape.2.64 Sustainable Infili HousingCMHC devised a design competition in 1991 to demonstrate that it is possible to designhouses for the Canadian climate which are in keeping with the principles of sustainability,offer occupants a healthy indoor environment, and are affordable.36 Housing professionalsfrom across Canada were invited to submit concepts in one of three categories: a newlyconstructed suburban detached home, an older home retrofit or an urban infill home.Designs were to be generic, rather than site specific, with elements usable in a variety ofhouses, sites and regions in Canada. Technical requirements were divided into five areas,including occupant health, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, environmentalresponsibility, and economic viability.The winning entries were from Vancouver and Toronto, both in the urban infill category.36. CMHC: Healthy Housing Design Competition. Ottawa: CMHC, 1993.34Both were designed to be built ot’f laneways in the rear yards of existing homes, bothwere designed for non-conventional families such as seniors and single-parents, and bothwould need or prompt changes to building codes and zoning regulations.Figure 2.3 Healthy Housing Design Competition: Vancouver EntrySource: The Canadian Architect, May 1992, p. 30.The Vancouver entry was comprised of a two-storey, one-bedroom frame house, designedto consume half the energy of an R-2000 home and provide a high level of indoor quality.The 85 m2 (918 ft2) house was designed to fit at the rear of a 10 by 37 m (33 by 122 ft)lot, typical of many residential areas of Vancouver. By incorporating the upgrading ofCONCEPTUAL ORGANiZATIONexisting Unitoutdoor area forexisting unit on existing deck and atgrade on west sideof lot; not overlooked by proposedinfiIl unitproposed infill unitoff-street parking For existingunit on westside of rearproperty lineoff-street parking for proposed uniton east side of rear property lineleading to main entry also on eastside35the existing house as part of the overall plan, the collective environmental impact of thetwo units would be equal to, or less than, that of the original house. A site was found inthe Commercial Drive area of Vancouver, and was constructed in 1993.The Toronto entry, named the CODICILE, is designed to occupy the space of two garagesoff a 6 metre lane, and is envisioned as just one of a whole community of such dwellingsalong the lane. The 79 m2 (850 ft2) house is essentially a six-metre cube, with twoFigure 2.4 Healthy Housing Design Competition: Toronto’s CODICILESource: The Canadian Architect, May 1992, p. 33.36bedrooms and a rooftop greenhouse. The house is entirely self-sufficient, making no useof the urban energy grid or the municipal infrastructure for sewage, storm water, potablewater or waste disposal. Electricity is provided by a photovoltaic array and a thermopilewhich converts heat from the woodstove into electricity. Estimated annual energy costsare $80, representing the cost of 1/3 cord of wood. Rainwater is purified by reverseosmosis and held in storage. Food wastes and toilet discharges are composted. A sitewas found and planning approval obtained in 1993.Despite the ecological advantages of these two designs, rear-lot infill requires carefulplanning. As higher site density means that each person will have less outdoor space, theremaining space must be planned efficiently, to address issues such as privacy and accessto sunlight. The space efficiency of both designs results in a house that is suitable for acouple, single-parent or elderly person. Each house provides a different type of housingthan the principal unit on the site, reflecting the different housing needs of today.2.7 Advantages and Disadvantages of Infall HousingIn the early part of the 1980’s, a number of Canadian studies were initiated to address thefeasibility of meeting future housing needs through more intensified residential growth.Several factors precipitated this concern:37• the need for more and smaller rental and housing units in response to populationgrowth and an overall decline in household size and increase in household types;37. See, for example, D. Hulchanski, Making Better Use of the Existing Housing Stock A Literature Review. Toronto:Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 1982; and Canadian Urban Institute, Housing Intensfication.Policies, Constraints and Options. Toronto: Canadian Urban Institute, 1991.37• the recognition of the relationship between energy conservation and housingdensity;• the recognition that affordability was becoming a major problem, particularly inlarge urban areas, and that intensified housing land use lowered per unit costs;• the recognition of the enormous capital investment that went into the existinghousing stock which could be intensified through conversion of single-familyhouses into multiple-unit houses;• the prospect of prolonged fiscal austerity on the parts of all levels of government,and the concomitant reduction in government assisted housing, and;• the increasing political, social and economic difficulties of providing new housingthrough large scale development or renewal.Continuing urban sprawl is contributing to the loss of human vitality, intimacy andneighbourliness of the urban region, which is compounded by the lack of mixing betweenhouses, shops and other vital urban activities. Forms of intensification such as infill havethe potential to meet the following social, economic and environmental objectives, at boththe urban and regional level:Social Objectives: Different types of housing created in the community through infill,secondary suites or redevelopment results in a wider selection of housing for the publicand provides much needed rental accommodation.38 By reducing per-unit housing costs,intensification may significantly contribute toward affordable housing. It may also allowa more equitable and efficient use of existing human services such as community basedhealth and social services and schools. A greater variety of housing can help maintainthe neighbourhood population base, by providing alternatives to the elderly, young38. Greater Vancouver Regional District. Background Paper on Compact Residential Communities in the GVRD.Vancouver, 1974.38families and single persons to remain in the neighbourhood. Neighbourhood commercialareas also benefit from a larger population, attracting new and varied retail outlets to theneighbourhood.39 Intensified housing also helps reduce commuting pressures andincreases access to those without automobiles.Economic Objectives: Housing intensification helps reduce the lower infrastructure costsper new housing unit and makes more efficient use of land and services. Residents ofinfill projects save up to thirty percent of living costs due to decreases in transportationexpenditures. Municipalities reap economic benefits through an increased tax base andthrough the use of schools and other services which are already in place.4°Environmental Objectives: Housing intensification may contribute to a substantialreduction of gasoline emissions by reducing automobile dependence and conserve energyused for home heating and cooling by reducing per capita space. In addition, housing isa major consumer of Canada’s natural resources. The construction and operation of ourhomes and communities places a heavy burden on our forests, water, petroleum and landresources. At virtually every stage of the design and construction process, inefficienciesin the use of materials can be identified. In many cases these inefficiencies are justifiedby the perception of Canada’s seemingly plentiful natural resources. Yet every timeresources are extracted, processed and manufactured, a burden is placed on the39. Klein & Sears. Study of Residential Intensification and Rental Housing Conservation, Vol. 7. Toronto: OntarioMinistry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 1983, p. 3.40. Mary Jane Copps, “Economic Benefits Reaped from Infill”, Canadian Building. October, 1986, p.16.39environment, and our resource base is diminished. A more efficient use of resourcesoffers the potential to improve affordability of our housing, to decrease energyconsumption associated with extraction and processing, and minimize the environmentalimpact of resource use.41Constraints on Infill HousingThe two most important constraints facing any form of housing intensification areneighbourhood opposition and the regulatory environment.Neighbourhood Opposition: Many residents are sensitive to the possible changes thatmight be introduced into local neighbourhoods through intensification activities.Communities have been reluctant to endorse the concept of intensification due to theperceived negative concepts of the activity itself coupled with the need to considerbroader changes to the current planning regulations.There are many genuine concerns regarding the potential impact of infill and conversionson existing communities. The most prevalent fears relate to property values, crowdingof neighbourhood facilities, traffic and parking problems, and property maintenance.Residents often envision worst-case scenarios, but evidence suggests that intensifiedhousing can be successfully integrated within a community, usually without any adverseeffects.41. CMHC. Healthy Housing: A Guide to a More Sustainable Future. CMHC, 1992, p. 17.40Residential intensification through conversion and infill could lead to a decrease inpersonal privacy as population density is increased. The increased number of residentsin a neighbourhood increases competition for street parking and creates greater volumesof traffic on local streets.42 Although a legitimate concern, a single family couldconceivably own more cars than a number of smaller households, as elderly persons andstudents generally own fewer cars than average. The Ontario Ministry of Housingconducted a study in seven areas of Toronto exhibiting various degrees of intensification,to examine the impacts of intensification on parking and traffic congestion. The studyfound that on an area-wide basis, the level of intensification was not the most significantfactor influencing local demand for parking. The study found that access to transitdirectly affected the number of vehicles per unit, although other factors such as householdincome were also important. It also examined the perception amongst survey respondentsthat there was shortage of parking spaces. It was found that very few residents wereforced to park illegally, regardless of whether the areas had a high or low degree ofintensification.43 However, additional parking requirements on-site do decrease theavailable open space, and increase the amount of paved or impermeable surface.Neighbourhood Crowding: With declining household sizes, few people recognize thatmany neighbourhoods in Vancouver are less populated than they were 20 to 25 years ago.The majority of Vancouvertsrecent population growth is being accommodated in the42. Klein and Sears, Vol. 7, p. 4.43. Metropolitan Toronto Planning Department, Housing Inrensfication Resource Kit. 1989, p. 10.41downtown core, and in industrial areas that have been rezoned to residential use.Although approximately 40 percent of single-family areas have been rezoned to allowsecondary suites, this essentially serves to legitimize an activity that was already prevalentin those areas. The secondary suite rezonmgs have the potential to add many rental suitesto the housing supply, but some developers continue to build single-family homes in theseareas.Lower Property Values: Although there are no studies on how the form of infill occurringin Vancouver affects property values, several studies have been done on the effect ofconversions on property values. In a study prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Housing,researchers found no evidence to suggest that conversions affect property values ofadjacent dwellings as, on average, prices in the control and conversion group were withinthree percent of one another. In fact, housing prices in the conversion group increasedmore than those in the control group although the difference was not statisticallysignificant.’Regulatory ConstraintsThe form, location and cost of developments such as infill are affected by municipalities.While the City of Vancouver has been allowing detached infill dwellings in someresidential zones for over a decade, it is the only municipality in the GVRD to do so.44. Ontario Ministry of Housing, The Impact of Conversions on Neighbourhoods: Property Values and Perceptions.Toronto, 1987.42The primary constraint on this type of infihl may be based on the definition of ‘lot” foundin many municipal zoning by-laws. In a residential intensification study done in 1982 forthe Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, most zoning by-laws of casestudy municipalities contained some sort of constraint based upon the notion that a “lot”,as defined, would be permitted to have one dwelling house situated on it. Thisincorporates traditional performance criteria such as minimum lot size and frontage whichare a most effective constraint to utilize in the maintenance of single family residenceareas, particularly in the suburban context.45 For example, Burnaby’s Zoning andDevelopment By-law specifies that:6.1(1) No residential use building shall be located on the same lot as anyother residential use building, except as otherwise provided for inthis By-law.The one dwelling per lot provisions would mean that rear lot or side lot infill could onlyproceed when a new lot could be created through subdivision to accommodate the infilldwelling proposal. Telephone conversations with zoning staff in the cities of Burnaby,New Westminster, Surrey, Richmond and West Vancouver confirmed that this would bethe case in those municipalities. Secondary detached dwellings on a single lot could notbe considered even to encourage retention of a heritage building. In Ontario, theprohibition against detached secondary dwellings is usually coupled with a prohibition“against the erection or use of residential buildings where the lot upon which the buildingis erected does not abut a public highway or street assumed for public highway purposes45. Klein and Sears, Vol. 8, p. 18.43or improved street’.46The above constraints effectively discourage detached infill dwellings, except for in themost limited circumstances where a new lot could be created that met municipal frontageand size requirements and which fronted onto a public street. Large or double frontinglots that qualify for subdivision normally involve demolition of the existing dwelling,either because the house encroaches over the new property line, or does not maintain therequired setbacks specified in the zoning by-law following subdivision.2.8 SummaryTo compete with other forms of housing, infill must demonstrate its advantages overcomparable dwellings. Infill housing has been used to create innovative forms of low-rise, medium-density, and ground related housing that offer enhanced liveability andincreased individual identity.47Infill is also a renewal strategy. By adding population and amenity to an area, andimproving the use of existing services without adding to public costs, it serves a socialpurpose. It also influences a neighbourhood’s environment by responding in it’s designor location to elements in the neighbourhood, and contributing in turn to theneighbourhood’s continuity, scale and character.46. Klein and Sears, Vol. 8, p. 18.47. CMHC: New Housing in Existing Neighbourhoods. Ottawa: CMHC, 1982.44Alternative housing forms such as infihl may be expected to encounter opposition. It maytake the form of local opposition or inflexibility on the part of administrative authorities.By definition, innovative projects do not operate within the existing boundaries ofadministrative or political control, and are thus vulnerable to opportunistic attack. If thereis to be innovation, then politicians and bureaucrats will have to eliminate many existinghurdles, and acquire a sense of experimentation themselves. Effective approaches tourban infill can help unlock land located near working areas that are already fullyserviced, and may provide lower priced ground-oriented housing in a market that iscurrently beyond the financial reach of many home buyers.453.0 Sensitive Infill Housing in the Contextof Vancouver’s Growth3.1 Changing Urban CircumstancesInfill housing and other forms of intensification are not new. They have been occurringin urban centres throughout Canada for many decades. Intensification is basically a newname for an old process whereby communities incrementally add to or alter the builtenvironment to accommodate new uses that reflect changing social and economic realities.Although infill housing is a new addition to Vancouver’s zoning by-law, there are historicexamples of rear-lot infill in neighbourhoods such as Strathcona that predate the zoningby-law.Intensification emerged among city planning and policy professionals in the 1970’s and1980’s in reaction to the detrimental consequences of urban sprawl: traffic congestion,declining transit ridership, increasing infrastructure costs, environmental deterioration,disappearance of prime agricultural land, declining quality of life in low-densityneighbourhoods, and so on. These concerns about urban sprawl are neither new norrestricted to Canada. Since the 1930’s, and particularly in the post-war era, urban sprawlhas been a major concern in Europe, North America and Australia.1This section briefly examines some of the geographic, demographic and economic changesthat have occurred in the Vancouver area over the past few decades. These trends are key1. Canadian Urban Institute, The Inrensfication Report Toronto: March, 1993.46to understanding the reasons behind the renewed interest in coping with urban sprawl.Several municipal initiatives to introduce infihl housing as part of a greater intensificationscheme will also be examined. Most intensification efforts throughout the region havefocussed on high density development, leaving single-family neighbourhoods for the mostpart untouched. However, throughout Canada and indeed much of the western worldthere is a strong preference for single-detached housing that is ground related and hasprivate outdoor space.3.11 Geographic TrendsIn the post-war years, car ownership became an expression of increased affluence in NorthAmerica. Increased mobility and wealth enabled people to live farther from cities, onmore spacious lots, leading to reduced housing densities. Changes in technology andmanagement led to increased numbers of office jobs and the shift of employment to theservice sector, with most growth occurring in the central areas of cities. This led toincreased demands for more roads, more downtown parking and an increased demand forpeak hour public transit. The increased geographical spread of cities extended the rangerequired of the public transportation network while at the same time the growth in the useof cars for off-peak trips reduced the patronage of public transit during most of the day.With increased mobility, suburban locations for employment and shopping became moreattractive: many industries moved from their old cramped premises in the centre to newsites on the suburban road network, only to be replaced by office workers at a higher47density at the centre.2 As central area functions became more widely dispersed, a grid ofhigh capacity roads serving low density development resulted. Public transport isexpensive and inefficient in such circumstances, and is generally weak or absentaltogether.Despite its inherent liabilities, the single-family detached house remains the mainstay inNorth America, accounting for half or more of annual housing starts. Single familyhomes have many advantages: they receive adequate light and air from four sides andprovide room for gardening, play, parking and outdoor uses. They enjoy direct access tothe street and their own private grounds, which can be shielded from noise and view.They can be built, maintained, remodelled, bought and sold independently. They can beconstructed at reasonable cost, using light frame materials, although they are not the leastexpensive type of housing. In many parts of the world, it is considered the ideal house,for it symbolizes the ideal family.3 In the Vancouver region, there is still a strongdemand for this form of housing, despite the worst affordability crisis in recent memory.The current rigidity of the municipal planning environment has resulted in a lack ofalternatives to the single-family home. The presumed liabilities of single-family housinghave not deterred home buyers, but the steady rise in land and servicing costs may spur2. A. Derbyshire and H. Brown, Urban Structure, in Roy Cresswell, Urban Planning and Public Transport.Lancaster: The Construction Press, 1979, p. 20-21.3. Kevin Lynch and Gary Hack, Site Planning. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1986, p. 272.48a search for detached housing forms that can be built at higher densities while using lessland. Approaches include rowhouses, small lot subdivisions, zero-lot line housing, orhybrid solutions such as rear lot infill. If municipalities are to reverse the trend of urbansprawl, they will have to do a better job at providing alternative forms of ground-orientedhousing.3.12 Demographic TrendsVancouver was the second fastest growing metropolitan area in Canada between 1986 and1991, with a growth rate of 16.1 percent, or 3.0 percent per year. The city itself grew by1.8 percent a year over the period, twice as fast as between 1981 and 1986. In terms ofnumber of people, Vancouver grew by just over 40,000 people, about the same amountin a five-year period as the city grew in the entire 1960’s. Part of this growth, however,can be attributed to the inclusion of non-permanent residents in the 1991 census, whichwere not counted in previous censuses. This represents approximately 2.4 percent of thecity’s total population, or about 11,000 people.One of the reasons for the higher growth rates is the recent increase in the number ofbirths, associated with the baby-boom generation. The number of births has beenincreasing since the early 1980’s, while the number of deaths has remained relativelystable. As a result, the city’s population has been growing by an average of 1,300 peoplea year through natural increase, comparable to the levels of the mid- 1960’s.49Figure 3.1 Population Change, Vancouver Area, 1971 - 1991Total Population. 1971 - 1991Census City of Percent Vancouver PercentYear Vancouver Change (CMA) Change1991 473,214 1,O2,S029.44 ie.o19b 432,3S5 1,3S0,7294.3719b1 414,281 1,2S,1&31.11197S 409,734 1,lee,34s-3.&9 7.71971 420,29S 1,02,3S2Despite the increase in births, the main component of population change is the netmigration from the rest of Canada and from overseas. Net international andinterprovincial migration climbed to record levels between 1986 and 1991. Historically,metropolitan Vancouver has been the destination for the majority of immigrants to BritishColumbia. In the last decade, the proportion of B.C. immigrants destined for Vancouverhas increased from 67 percent in 1981 to about 82 percent in 1991.The size and nature of today’s households help to define the kind of housing which isboth affordable and desirable for the future. Several of the factors that contribute to thedemand for additional housing include:4. City of Vancouver, “Population’, The Vancouver Monitoring Program. City of Vancouver Planning Department,May, 1992.50a. Growing number of households: In most municipalities, it is not a rapidlyexpanding population that is increasing the demand for housing, but an increasein the number of households. As shown in Figure 3.2, from 1971 to 1981,Vancouver’s population actually declined by 2.8 percent, yet the number of privatehouseholds increased by 12.8 percent. There are now 46,000 more households inVancouver than in 1971, an increase of 30 percent over 1991. Vancouver’spopulation increased by only eleven percent in the same period. This trend isFigure 3.2 Growing Number of Households, Vancouver, 1971 - 1991expected to continue. The GVRD projects that Vancouver’s population willincrease by 35 percent between 1991 and 2021, while the number of householdsGrowing Number of HousehoIcsCity of Vancouver, 1971 . 199150%25%20%15%10%5%0%-5%1971-76 1971-51 1971-56 1971-91Prio (1971 5e)• Fopula5on HoushoIsSource, Cenaus of Canada, 1971 - 199151will rise by 50 percent in the same period.5b. Smaller household sizes: As shown in Figure 3.3, the average number of personsper household continues to gradually decrease. The number of persons perVancouver household has declined from 2.7 in 1971 to 2.3 in 1991, a 15 percentFigure 3.3 Average Household Sizedecrease. This may be attributed to low fertility rates in the 1970’s, and the risingnumber of small, non-traditional households, such as one-person and non-familyhouseholds. Another factor may be empty-nester households, the generation ofparents who spawned the baby boom from about 1946 to 1962 and are nowAverage Householci SizeCanaca and City of Vanoouver, 1951 . 199154320CatdaVancouver1951 1961 1971 1961 19914 3.9 3 2.9 2733 33 3 27 23Source: Census of Canada, 1951 - 1991DCanada Vancouverl5. Derived from: GVRD, Liveable Region Strategy: Proposals. August, 1993.52thought to be living alone in the same dwellings in which they raised theirfamilies.6c. An increase in non-family households: Figure 3.4 shows that non-familyhouseholds as a proportion of total households has been increasing over the last20 years while family-households have been decreasing. Between 1971 and 1991,family households increased by 7.3 percent while non-family households increasedby over 74 percent. Non-family households grew in proportion from 1/3 ofVancouver’s households in 1971 to over 45 percent in 1991.Figure 3.4 Family and Non-Family HouseholdsFamily and Non-Family HouseholdsCity of Vancouver. 1971 - 1991200.000-I60,225153415150,000165745100,00050,000-101.650 96,2500-97,135- -- 100,625 109,065 -1971 1976 1981 1986DFamJIy Houehoid •Non-famly HouseholdSour: C -199119916. David Hulchanski, Making Better Use of the Existing Housing Stock.’ A Literature Review. Toronto: Ontario Ministryof Municipal Affairs and Housing, 1982, p. 25.53d. More people are living alone: The single-person household continues to be thefastest growing portion of the population, as shown in Figure 3.5. This could bein part from an increased tendency for non-married (single, widowed, divorced)individuals to live in one-person households as opposed to other livingarrangements. One and two person households comprised almost 68 percent ofVancouvertshouseholds in 1991. Single-person households tend to live closer toFigure 3.5 Size of Householdthe central core, as opposed to the suburbs. In 1991, only 21 percent of thepopulation of the Vancouver CMA (census metropolitan area), excluding the City,lived in single-person households, which is comparable to Canada as a whole.Size of HouseholdCity of Vancouver. 1971 an1 19911971 19911 Person27.4%2 Person32.0%3 Person14.3%2 Person(2ae%4+ Person2e.3% 3 Person12.1%4+ Person20.0%5ource: Census of Canada. 1971 and 199154e. More single-parent families: The number of lone-parent families in Vancouvergrew from 12.7 percent of family households in 1976, to 15.5 percent in 1991.Of lone-parent families in Vancouver, over 83 percent are led by women.f. Aging population: By 2021, it is estimated that people aged 60 and over willconstitute 23 percent of Vancouver’s population. In 1991, people aged sixty andover constituted 18.3 percent of Vancouver’s population, which is a decline of overtwo percent from 1981, when 20.5 percent of the population was in that agegroup. This trend is not typical: a corresponding increase in this age groupoccurred in both the metropolitan Vancouver area and British Columbia over thesame period.Figure 3.6 Age Distribution in the City of VancouverThousands-6050403020 r10 — - - -0 L L - L/Age PistriLution in the City of Vancouver1971 -1991—1971 —1—1951 —.—1991“ k’s, jY r ,o’A0e Groups5ouros Cnnsus oFCanada 1971-1991553.13 Housing AffordabifityIn 1991, 59 percent of Vancouver households rented their homes. The continuedmovement of people into the Lower Mainland, coupled with high home ownership costs,have increased the demand for rental apartments. A complex set of economic factorscontribute to the shortage of adequate and affordable housing in Vancouver:a. Decline in Apartment Production: Relatively few market rental units are nowbeing built, compared to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when various governmentassisted rental programs spurred construction. In 1991, just under 500 marketrental units were completed in the city, and fewer than 150 units in 1990. Thenumber of non-market units also continues to decline. In 1986, there were over1,000 co-op and non-profit units completed in the city. By 1990, this had fallento 303 units, and 238 units were completed in 1991.Most new multiple dwellings in the city are now built as condominiums.Condominium completions accounted for 68 percent of all the apartment and rowhousing units completed in 1991, and 73 percent in 1990. Although condominiumunits are built for individual ownership, about half of the condominium units inthe city are rented out. Consequently, the large number of condominiumcompletions does provide additional rental housing to city residents, although ofa more transitory and expensive nature than typical rental housing. The cost of7. City of Vancouver, Population, The Vancouver Monitoring Program. City of Vancouver Planning Department,May, 1992.56renting, however, relative to the rise in household income, actually decreasedbetween 1986 and 1991. In addition, the number of tenant occupied householdspaying more than 30 percent of their household income for rent declined from 46percent of tenant households in 1986 to 34 percent in 1991. This is probablyattributed to the high unemployment rates of the mid-1980’s. In 1985, theunemployment rate in Metropolitan Vancouver was 13.2 percent; this declined to7.1 percent in 1990.b. Sustained low vacancy rates: High demand and little new construction has causedthe vacancy rate in privately-initiated apartments to decline. Vacancy rates remainFigure 3.7 Apartment Vacancy RatesApartment Vacancy RatesVancouver Area. 19&6 -1993I, aj Q 0 oj’ ‘1/ / , , _0 0 0 o 0 0 0--City +Metio9ource CMHC, Rental Market Reports, 1956- 199357at or near one percent in the Vancouver area, which means there is only onevacancy for every 100 apartment units. As shown in Figure 3.7, the vacancy ratehas seldom risen above two percent over the last fifteen years. A vacancy rate ofthree percent is considered a healthy balance of supply and demand for theVancouver area.c. Declining affordability in home-ownership markets: As shown in Figure 3.8, themedian price of a single-detached house in Vancouver tripled between 1987 and1994. In Vancouver’s west side, the median cost of a house climbed from$156,500 in 1983 to $635,000 in mid-1994.Figure 3.8 Median Housing Prices - City of VancouverThousandsMe1ian SFP an1 Corlo PricesVancouver West an East Sides, 1987 -1994goo5oo4OO3oo2OO$100123412341234123412341234123412197 1900 1909 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994SourGe: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver58In summary, demographic changes in Vancouver closely reflect trends that have beendocumented nation wide. The most relevant of these changes for housing policy aredeclining household size, an increasing number of household types, and the aging of thepopulation. In addition, housing prices are at an all-time high. These trends suggest thatthere will be increased demand for smaller and more affordable forms of housing.3.2 Comprehensive Intensification PlansVancouver’s population is expected to grow by 160,000 people by the year 2021. In thatperiod, Vancouver will need to add about 100,000 housing units, an increase of 50 percentover that available in 1991.8 While two-thirds of this housing growth will beaccommodated in projects that the City has already approved, the Greater VancouverRegional District (GVRD) believes that Vancouver will need more ground-orientedhousing to meet the needs of the regions growing population.For a major city, Vancouver is unique in that it resembles a single-family suburb, withapproximately 70 percent of the City’s urban land area zoned for single family housing,although about 40 percent of single-family areas have recently been rezoned to allowsecondary suites. This differs from the historical development of the inner cities ofToronto and San Francisco, which are much older and have been developed in a muchdenser pattern. These cities have more multi-family zoned neighbourhoods close to thedowntown employment core, which are characterized by attached, medium or high density8. City of Vancouver Planning Department, Making Choices. 1994.59housing. Because of this, intensification activities in those cities are more likely to occurin suburban single-family districts. The pressures of intensifying in the urban singlefamily districts of Vancouver are likely to increase, because of high land costs andbecause they are convenient to downtown workplaces and activities.Despite the rapid growth occurring in the Lower Mainland, the City of Vancouvercurrently does not have an official plan. The lack of a city-wide plan has contributed tothe difficulties inherent in neighbourhood planning. In particular, neighbourhoods havenot had the opportunity to debate their role in the context of the city as a whole. Thosewho do participate in the planning process are often distrustful and suspicious of anydevelopment proposal. Predictably, the result is conflict and delays in the developmentor redevelopment of land for housing, neighbourhood intensification and residential infilL9In the 1980’s both Vancouver and Burnaby developed strategies for dealing with growth,in the form of comprehensive intensification plans. Rather than identifying precise nodesor sites for higher densities, intensification was presented as a policy goal, to express adesired vision for the city. Vancouver is currently in the process of such an exercise, inwhich the public will play a role in determining which intensification strategy, if any,will be used to accommodate future growth.9. B. Riera, T. Retcher and A. McAfee, “New Partnerships, New Directions: Vancouverr CityPlan”, Plan Canada,November, 1993, p. 16-20.603.21 Burnaby’s Compaction PlanIn the early 1980’s, Burnaby undertook a comprehensive planning exercise called theResidential Neighbourhood Environment Study. The objective was to promote thedevelopment of more compact housing and the intensification of the existing housingstock, as well as find ways to preserve and enhance existing neighbourhoods. The studyformed the basis for the Burnaby Compaction Plan.The rationale behind the plan was that the existing single-family housing stock wasdesigned for an earlier generation, and did not reflect the demographic and lifestylechanges of the 1980’s. The Compaction Plan focussed on identifying opportunities andpotential for adding more people and housing to Burnaby’s lower-density residentialneighbourhoods. Multiple-family housing areas were not affected by any proposals in thestudy.The Compaction Plan left very few single-family neighbourhoods untouched. New zoningcategories were proposed to encourage a variety of housing options, including secondarysuites, small lot subdivisions, fourplex conversions and small infill development, in whichthree to eight units would be built on vacant sites. Urban medium densities would beencouraged at the periphery of commercial and higher-density residential areas, to act asa transition between densities.1°10. Burnaby Planning Department, Residential Neighbourhood Environment Study: Discussion Papers. Burnaby, 1984,p. 7-24.61In August, 1984, Burnaby Council axed the study following widespread public opposition.A survey undertaken by municipal staff found that 94.7 percent of the 3,650 residentspolled were opposed to the plan that would have increased density in many single-familyneighbourhoods. Changes discussed in the Compaction Plan were intended to occurslowly and incrementally; however, this message was not effectively conveyed to localresidents. The very word “compaction” was probably ill-chosen; one resident felt that “itseems to imply that one can simply compact people into the least space possible, likesardines into a can.”3.22 The Vancouver PlanIn the early 1980’s, the Vancouver Planning Department developed the Coreplan, whichidentified policies to address the effects of employment growth on housing, transportationand other urban issues affecting the downtown and surrounding inner city. As many ofthe issues had consequences for all of Vancouver, the scope of the Coreplan was laterbroadened to address the entire city, and renamed the Vancouver Plan.The Vancouver Plan recommended the gradual intensification of densities in the city toprovide more housing opportunities. Some single-family areas would be rezoned formedium-density, ground-oriented housing such as townhouses, patio-homes, conversionsand small-scale infill development. It was felt that the regions population future indicateda demand for this kind of housing, rather than higher density alternatives, which were11. Burnaby Now, November 19, 1984, p.1.62likely to be saturated by high density developments already being planned for. Areas ofexisting low-density had more potential to achieve a net increase in potential dwellingunits, without going to extraordinarily high densities. Redevelopment in single-family oradjacent non-residential areas also would involve less demolition of affordable housing.In selecting areas for greater housing potential, the city examined areas where the cost ofproviding municipal services to new developments could be minimized. Identified areashad surplus physical infrastructure (such as sewer capacity), surplus community services(such as schools, community centres and parks), and good transit access to employment.Obviously, increased housing potential will have to be introduced verysensitively, so that the act of sharing Vancouver among more residentsdoes not make it less worth sharing. The city will consult with existingresidents before recommending increased potential in their neighbourhoods.More housing units should only be introduced into city neighbourhoodswith a minimum disruption of the present quality of life.12Vancouver City Council never adopted the Vancouver Plan, although portions of the planwere reintroduced and later adopted by Council, such as rezoning declining industriallands to residential use. Other portions, such as the Neighbourhood Housing CentresProgram, in which the City would rezone commercial and residential areas to permit morehousing near shopping centres, along transit routes and near public open spaces,potentially adding 22,000 apartment units, were also rejected by Council. Long-timeCouncillor George Puil said of the Neighbourhood Housing Centres idea, “if we went to12. City of Vancouver Planning Department, The Vancouver Plan. The City Strategy for Managing Change. July,1986, p.11.63the community with something like that, we’d be shot.”13 This response is consistent withCouncil’s previous ones when faced with proposals to increase housing density in single-family areas or adjacent to them.’43.23 Vancouver’s CityPlanCityPlan is Vancouver’s latest attempt to develop a comprehensive strategy for dealingwith growth. Unlike the previously described initiatives in Burnaby and Vancouver, inwhich the public’s input was restricted to reviewing the planner’s conclusions, CityPlanhas attempted to involve the public in the preparation of those plans. CityPlan is meantto present a broad vision for the future of the City. While ways and means should beoutlined, CityPlan will not be a detailed policy document, or even a strategic land useplan.’5The first two steps of CityPlan involved the collection and discussion of ideas. Atpresent, the CityPlan process is at the third step, called “Making Choices.” Ideas havebeen grouped into twelve themes, and participants are encouraged to make their choicesfor each of the twelve themes, many of which relate to housing, transportation andenvironmental issues. Four alternative “Futures” have been presented, some of which beara striking resemblance to those in the Vancouver Plan:13. Vancouver Sun, January 13, 1990.14. Stanbury and Todd, p. 170.15. Riera, Fletcher and McAfee, p. 17.64City of Neighbourhood Centres: Population growth is directed to neighbourhoodcentres throughout the city which provide a range of housing, jobs, shops andcommunity services. Some single-family housing in each neighbourhood has beenredeveloped to higher density (rowhouses, infihl, conversions) to create thesecentres.2. City of Mixed Residential and Main Street Neighbourhoods: Rowhouses andapartments, attractive to families with children, are dispersed throughoutneighbourhoods, replacing many single-family houses. Some of these new unitsare also attractive to older people who want a smaller home in their ownneighbourhood. Neighbourhood decision making gives local residents a say aboutthis form of development, as well as about other local issues and services.3. The Central City: New high density communities are created on former industriallands close to the city centre. These new communities are attractive primarily tosingles and couples, rather than families with children. People living here, nearthe centre of the city, are close to jobs and can easily walk or take transit to work.Single-family areas are largely protected from redevelopment to higher density.4. The Traditional City: Population growth has been limited to projects planned inthe early 1990’s. This means new housing has been built mainly downtown andabove shops on commercial streets throughout the city ... The physical appearance65of most of the city has not changed. But there are important changes to theactivities in the city and who lives and works here. There are more pressures onthe rest of the region to accept and manage growth, particularly to provide morefamily housing.Although a draft plan has not yet been developed for Council’s consideration, some wouldargue that the four futures, as presented, are arranged in order of the PlanningDepartment’s preference. Jamie Lamb, a columnist for the Vancouver Sun, agrees thatFuture One is best able to fulfill the goals that the city and the public deem important:livability, jobs, mix of housing, lifestyle, local transit and so on. However, he feels thathowever unintentional, the travelling CityPlan exhibit offers a “textbook example of howa bureaucracy seems to offer choice while working towards a particular outcome.”6Despite such criticism, CityPlan will have served a useful purpose if it succeeds in gettingpeople thinking about accommodating future growth, in both the city and in the LowerMainland.The first 1,000 responses to the futures questionnaire have been tabulated thus far. Theresponses to the land use topics show that 84 percent of respondents have selected a newfuture that adds new housing, jobs and services in existing single-family areas near localshopping; either through neighbourhood centres (62 %) or through scatteredredevelopment (22 %). Eight percent support a future which continues to redevelop16. Jamie Lamb, CityPlan Exhibition Left Me A Changed Person’, Vancouver Sun, July 22, 1994, p.A3.66industrial land for housing. Surprisingly, only eight percent voted to limit growth.’73.3 SummarySignificant pressures are emerging for change in the pattern of urban residentialdevelopment and urban land use in general. Continued low density fringe developmentis costly and inefficient, for both the individual and society. Yet, increasing residentialdensities in already developed areas presents serious regulatory and political problems.Increased residential densities, particularly in single-family areas, contravene manyexisting building codes, zoning by-laws and official plans, and are often resisted by localresidents. The direction of the necessary change is clear: towards a more effective andefficient use of existing residential infrastructure, and of the existing housing stock.’8Land use patterns, especially where people live and work, are important at the regionaland neighbourhood level. At the regional, or “macro” level, land use can be controlledby reallocating the regions growth among the municipalities to form a more compact, lesssprawling region. Population and jobs can be clustered near regional centres and sitedalong transportation corridors. A better balance between work force and jobs can becreated in each municipality, giving people more opportunities to live close to work. Thisis the objective of the GVRD’s “Livable Region Plan”.17. City of Vancouver. Planning at a Glance, Volume 2. City of Vancouver Planning Department, 2nd Quarter, 1994.18. Hulchanski, p. 2.67At the neighbourhood, or micro level, municipalities can create neighbourhoods wherenon-drivers are less disadvantaged or where a car is actually not required. By creatingsmall-town or village Street patterns in suburban areas, routine neighbourhood trips canbe made by foot or bicycle. Traffic can be calmed to slow down traffic and create betterpedestrian environments. Intensified housing in residential areas, such as rowhouses andinfill, may provide additional ground-oriented housing not common in the region today,while encouraging a healthier lifestyle, in which walking and bicycling become viabletransportation alternatives.The GVRDtsLivable Region Plan, Burnabys Compaction Plan, the Vancouver Plan andCityPlan demonstrate that planners are in favour of intensification and have tried topromote it. However, attempts to introduce change into single-family neighbourhoodshave generally ended in failure, because of a lack of public support and political will.This is contrary to demographic and economic trends, which indicate more and smallerhouseholds, requiring smaller and more affordable accommodation.684.0 Infill Housing Potential in Vancouver4.1 Zoning Provisions for Infifi HousingSecondary infihl dwellings, sometimes referred to as granny cottages or coach houses,have been a growing trend in Vancouver since the late 1970’s. Although occasionallypermitted on large estates in the city, going back to the turn of the century, their primaryfunction then was as servants quarters or guest houses. The infill houses being producedtoday provide an additional source of ground-oriented housing, although mainly formoderate to high-income households at this time.Still, infihl may prove to be a partial solution to the housing problems presented byVancouver’s growing population. Infill can be a cost-effective way to preserve olderneighbourhoods, to subsidize expensive renovations and provide more affordable detachedhousing (in relative terms) in the heart of the city. The increased burden on city servicesis more manageable than the demands made by high-density housing. Although themajority of Vancouver’s infill housing has been built in older inner city neighbourhoods,infill could potentially be used in Vancouver’s single-family neighbourhoods, to deterdemolition and increase the supply of ground-oriented housing.Infill, as defined in Vancouver’s Zoning and Development By-law, is restricted to infihlone-family dwellings, infill two-family dwellings, and infill multiple dwellings. In allcases, infill means an additional building on a site already containing one or more existing69buildings, some or all of which are retained. Vancouver is the only municipality in theGVRD that includes infill as a defined dwelling use in its zoning by-law.The addition of infill housing as a permitted use in some residential zones was notprimarily motivated by a concern to provide affordable housing, but to provide someincentive for preserving character houses and streetscapes. Market forces, particularly inwest side neighbourhoods, have driven prices well out of the affordable range. However,the occurrence of infill in some east side neighbourhoods does not appear to be as linkedto character preservation, and do offer more affordable home-ownership opportunities.Infill is a conditional approval use in First Shaughnessy and some areas of Kitsilano,Southlands, Fairview Slopes, West Mount Pleasant, Strathcona, Grandview-Woodlandsand Riverside (SE Marine Drive area). It is an outright approval use in the West End.4.2 The Evolution of Infili as a Retention StrategyThe majority of Vancouver’s infill activity is occurring in its inner-city conversion areas.In neighbourhoods such as Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodlands, one canfind much evidence of Vancouver’s first suburbs, built between 1905 and 1915.’Although the large single-family homes suited the tastes and requirements of the day, bythe late 1920’s the City was receiving innumerable requests to convert these large homesto apartments. The City Council of the day agreed to the requests and the first ofVancouver’s multiple conversion dwellings were created.1. Jeannette Hiavach, “The Inner City Conversion Areas”, Quarterly Review. October 1982, p. 18-19.70Figure 4.1 Vancouver’s NeighbourhoodsStrathcona: In the 1950’s and 1960’s, when urban renewal was considered the solution tothe problems of older residential areas, the conversion areas were thought to be candidatesfor wholesale clearance and redevelopment. In 1957, the City of Vancouver embarkedupon a twenty year urban renewal plan, with Strathcona being the first neighbourhoodselected for renewal. A major focus of this program was the “comprehensiveredevelopment” of Strathcona, the clearance of all existing homes and replacement withpublic housing, high rises and row housing. Union Street was to be the south border ofthe new Strathcona as the blocks of homes below it were to be demolished for a majorfreeway system. The rationale for urban renewal was that Strathcona, in addition tohaving old and run-down housing, was in a strategic location, being adjacent to the71Downtown, Waterfront and False Creek areas. Commencing in 1958, the City placed afreeze upon the entire area. Property values were frozen, no major redevelopment andhome improvement permits were allowed and public works maintenance was stopped.2In 1958, despite the protests of 300 residents, 28 acres were expropriated and redeveloped,and approximately 1600 people were displaced. The first phase of urban renewal beganin 1959 with the construction of 159 units of public housing at MacLean Park. An entireblock of homes were demolished as a replacement park. Ten acres of land and homeswere then cleared in preparation of the 376 unit Raymur Place Housing Project atCampbell Avenue. In 1963, 29 acres of housing were demolished, resulting in thedisplacement of 1730 people. In 1964, changes to the federal urban renewal programallowed municipalities to include street and service improvements. This led to a proposalto connect downtown Vancouver with Highway 1 on the city’s eastern boundary, by adriving a freeway through the heart of Strathcona and Chinatown.Acquisition and clearance for Scheme II Urban renewal began in 1965 with theexpropriation of and clearance of homes in five blocks for an extension to MacLean Park,senior citizens housing and an extension to Strathcona School. The urban renewalschemes met strong opposition from Strathcona residents and Chinatown leaders. It waspointed out that the urban renewal would destroy the community and threaten thelivelihood of Chinatown. The expropriation of homes for $6,000 to $8,000 was argued2. Chuck Davis, The Vancouver Book. Vancouver: Evergreen Press, 1976, p. 106.72unfair and discriminatory.3The protests were of no avail as the City continued with its urban renewal. In August,1968, the City prepared Scheme III, the final and complete bulldozing of the entireneighbourhood. Fortunately, this scheme was never implemented as the federalgovernment reassessed its urban renewal involvement across Canada. The third and finalproposal had also sparked a last ditch effort to stop the bulldozing of their neighbourhood.In December, 1968, six hundred persons attended the founding of the Strathcona PropertyOwners and Tenants Association (SPOTA). The purpose of this new organization wasto ensure that people who lived in the area would be fully informed and their interests andcommunity will be protected. In briefs to City Hall, SPOTA argued for a revised renewalscheme which favoured rehabilitation and preservation.In the Fall of 1969, SPOTA was asked by the senior governments to join in a four levelcommittee to investigate rehabilitation for Strathcona. In 1971, a $4.9 millionRehabilitation scheme was approved for Strathcona, with $2 million going towards publicworks and $2 million going towards housing rehabilitation assistance. In 1973, SPOTAinitiated plans for non-profit housing on infill lots throughout the neighbourhood. Theselots, which had been acquired by the City under urban renewal, were sold to theProvincial government at SPOTA’s request. The Province was to lease the land for nonprofit housing. SPOTA began its Infill Housing project with a seven-unit cooperative on3. Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association, The Stratheona Story. Vancouver, 1976.73five vacant lots at 730 Union Street, constructed in 1974. In the Fall of 1975, SPOTAbegan Phase Two of its Infill Housing project by building three units of housing ondouble lots at eight different Strathcona locations. Financing came under the Provincialgovernments non-profit housing program. The third and final phase involved theconstruction of single units on 16 small vacant lots in 1976.There is nothing that mobilizes a community quite like a perceived threat. While residentswere initially unable to convince Council to abandon urban renewal, the freeway issuegalvanized public opinion, and Strathcona grew into a solid, cohesive community. By theearly 1970’s, community dissatisfaction with the physical and social changes caused byurban renewal led to fundamental changes in local politics. Communities no longeraccepted “imposed” solutions. Citizen activists began running and were elected toCouncil. The freeway was stopped, a new civic party emerged, and the focus of planningin Vancouver was changed.4 The policy focus shifted toward neighbourhood protectionand improvement, which meant dramatic changes for planning practice. Communityparticipation was encouraged and local area planning, with citizen planning committees,became a major component of the Planning Department’s work. During this period, thediversity of conversion areas came to be more appreciated: they were seen to provide asupply of moderate-cost and ground-oriented rental accommodation, a diversity ofbuildings and residents, and a transition between densities. To preserve the desirableaspects of these areas, plans and policies were developed to encourage the retention of4. Michael Gordon and Rob Whitlock, ‘The Origins of Vancouver’s Neighbourhoods’, Quarterly Review. April, 1986,p.4.74existing buildings, and to make the conversion of these buildings easier. The intentionwas to keep social diversity by keeping physical diversity.5Today, Strathcona still contains a large number and variety of buildings from theneighbourhoods first settlement. There is a mixture of Classic Frame, Pioneer and QueenAnne homes, as well as row houses and apartment blocks. As of June 1992, there were283 structures in the area listed on the Vancouver Heritage Inventory.6 SPOTA’s InfillHousing project offered the opportunity to provide socially responsive housing, insertedinto the gaps left by the selective demolition caused by Urban Renewal. Infihl housing,in this context, defines a building process which seeks to replace missing “teeth” in thefabric of the city. However, Strathcona probably contains Vancouver’s earliest examplesof rear lot infill as well.Most of the area is characterized by narrow 7.6 m by 37.2 m (25 by 120 ft.) lots. Manyof the existing infihl dwellings predate Vancouver’s zoning by-law. Landowners wouldsometimes build a new, larger house at the front of their lots and move the originaldwelling to the rear of their lot, or to another lot. Most of these rear lot dwellings arenow “grandfathered” as legal non-conformities under current zoning. However, infihlbecame a permitted conditional use in the Strathcona area as of 1992, to provideincentives for the retention of existing buildings. Although there are historic examples5. Ibid.6. City of Vancouver Planning Department, Strathcona-Downtown Eastside: A Community Profile. 1993.75of infill on 7.6 m (25 ft) wide lots, the standard approach to infill used in other areas isdifficult to apply to narrow parcels, mainly because of siting and parking requirements.Therefore, new infill development is expected to he contained on two lots, with one infilldwelling constructed at the rear of the consolidated lots.Historic Infihl in StrathconaFairview Slopes: In the 1970’s, changes in market demands and land values had noticeableimpacts on conversion areas, primarily those on the west side of the city. In the mid1950’s, parts of Fairview Slopes were rezoned for light industrial use, which quickenedthe pace of housing destruction. In 1972, city council began the False Creekdevelopment, and changed Fairview from an industrial zone to housing and commercial.Figure 4.2I76Land values soared, due to the central location, views, and proximity to the south shoreof False Creek. Houses continued to be demolished, and many residents were evictedfrom their homes. In 1974, a consulting firm was commissioned to study the economicfeasibility of preserving the existing housing stock. Their report recommended variousforms of infill housing, which included infill within lot lines, and infill over lot lines andover road allowances. The rationale for the latter was that because of its central locationand proximity to transit, “Fairview may evolve into a relatively car-less neighbourhood”.7However, infill buildings on the rear parts of lots, or in some cases the fronts of the lots,were felt to present fewer building by-law problems, because of their larger separationfrom existing buildings. As there were only a few examples of infill underway in Canada,the experiences cited in the report came mainly from one source - the ‘Mark VIII InfillHousing Project” in Winnipeg, discussed previously in Chapter 2.In 1975, local area planning was introduced to the neighbourhood. The Fairview PlanningCommittee, comprised of local owners, tenants and business people, worked through 1975and 1976 to preserve older buildings, maintain a mix of income groups and restrictbuilding densities. In 1976, Council adopted the Fairview Slopes Policy Plan, theobjective being to preserve and strengthen the small scale residential character of theSlopes, allow some commercial development, while maintaining a diversity of old andnew buildings. For the first time in Vancouver, infill was adopted as part of a zoning bylaw and policy plan. The policy plan stated that infill development should be encouraged.7. The Sussex Group, Economic Feasibility of Preserving the Fairview Slopes. Vancouver, 1974, p.6.77The infihl concept allows new buildings to be constructed on the same siteas a building to be retained. Criteria of open space, privacy, light and airpenetration, and compatibility with adjoining buildings would determine themaximum size of building that would be permitted.8However, the infill concept never had a chance to take hold in Fairview. While the newzoning schedule adopted in 1976 permitted a floor space ratio (FSR) of 0.6, it alsoprovided for a discretionary bonus. If developers provided certain amenities specified inthe by-law, they were allowed to build to a density two-and-one-half times greater(1.5 FSR). Once the higher floor space ratio became achievable, land values soared tomatch that density. Virtually every project on the slopes from 1976 to 1982 managed tosecure the higher FSR. The temptation of the higher density was too great, and mostolder residences were demolished rather than rehabilitated.9 The Fairview residents, whohad thought the 1976 zoning meant most of the projects would be built at 0.6 FSR, withperhaps a few projects rewarded extra density for good design, naturally felt betrayed.’°Kitsilano: The first community to really take advantage of the infill concept wasKitsilano. Like Fairview, Kitsilano was also experiencing significant social and physicalchanges in the 1970’s. With its proximity to downtown Vancouver and amenities suchas beaches, parks, water and mountain views, Kitsilano came under heavy developmentpressures. Fearing that their neighbourhood would become another West End, residents8. City of Vancouver Planning Department, Fairview Slopes Policy Plan, 1976.9. K. Huhtala and T. Nonay, ‘Local Area Planning- The Experience (Fairview Slopes)’, Quarterly Review, April 1986,p. 11-12.10. Donald Gutstein, “Peril on the Slopes’, Vancouver Magazine. February, 1983, p. 34.78lobbied against highrise apartment developments, and protested against the destruction ofmultiple conversion dwellings, which provided much of the affordable accommodation inthe area. This and other issues led to the establishment of Vancouver’s first local areaplanning program in 1974. Kitsilano was also one of the first federal NeighbourhoodImprovement Program areas established in the city. Area residents expressed a desire tolimit growth, maintain and encourage a diversity of people and housing, and encourageinnovative and imaginative solutions to problems. The planning program was divided intoseveral sub-areas, with the four conversion areas of Kitsilano left until last.Many of the older conversion buildings continued to deteriorate, as land speculators wereholding their property for redevelopment. The plan for the conversion areas wascompleted in 1977. To reduce development pressures in these areas, two new zones(RT- 1A and RT-2A) were created in 1977 to encourage retention, by allowing incentivessuch as infill. Probably because of the lesson provided in Fairview, floor space ratioswere kept at 0.6, although conversions and infill could get conditional approval for 0.75FSR in RT-2A. The objective of the new by-laws was to maintain the traditionalarchitectural character of the area, while assisting with certain social goals: in RT-2A, tomaintain a diverse social fabric; and in RT-1A, to provide affordable housing.Continuing pressures for higher density development in conversion areas led Council tore-examine its policy on conversions. A position paper was prepared in 1982 by Dr.Henry Hightower, of UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning. The report79recommended that conversion areas should remain as an alternative to the city’s apartmentand single-family areas, as they provided appropriate housing for a variety of people. Thereport suggested that higher density conversion areas be preserved, with lower densityareas gradually densifying to take advantage of existing services and provide neededincreases in housing stock.A resident survey was conducted in 1982 to see if the new forms of development weremeeting these objectives. In terms of physical change, 84 percent of residents weresatisfied with the new changes, although only 49 percent approved of new townhousedevelopment in the area. Forty-three percent of all respondents felt that there were stillFigure 4.3 Kitsilano: Rear-Lot Infill80too many older homes being demolished in the area. Most respondents did not want tosee excessive density, but felt the new housing choices were providing more affordableopportunities for individuals and families to enjoy city life. To address concernsregarding demolition and poor design, the City hired architectural consultants to puttogether design guidelines for the areas, and several zoning amendments have since beenmade. In the early 1980’s, parts of West Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodlands wererezoned to RT-1A or RT-2A, to encourage retention of the conversion stock in thoseareas.Mount Pleasant: Mount Pleasant is comprised of five distinct neighbourhoods, extendingfrom Cambie to Clark Drive, and from Terminal to 16th Avenues. In its early years,Mount Pleasant became the new “uptown” of Vancouver. To reflect this, Councilrenamed Ninth Avenue and Westminster Road to Broadway and Main, respectively.However, Mount Pleasant’s role as an affluent suburb did not last, and the area started toquickly decline in the late 1920’s, as the “uptown” area shifted towards Broadway andGranville. The same streets that once created a positive focus for the community - Main,Broadway and Kingsway - became major arterials, fragmenting and disrupting the veryheart of the community. Until the 1960’s, east Mount Pleasant was a stable residentialcommunity made up of fine turn-of-the-century houses. However, the area began to showsigns of abandonment as resident owners moved away or sold to absentee landlords.When the slope north of Broadway was rezoned for lowrise apartments, developers“jumped at the opportunity, erecting numerous bland, boxy buildings, like strips of81toothpaste along the streets.” These problems and the varied pressures for physical andsocial change facing the area led the community to request a local area planning program,which Council approved in 1981.The West Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, bounded by Cambie, Ontario, 10th and 16thAvenues, has survived relatively intact. This area contains a wide cross-section ofarchitecturally significant houses, which were awaiting the inevitable demolition to makeway for three-storey apartment buildings in the mid-1970’s. It was largely the efforts ofone family, the Davises, who made a commitment to save the surviving houses in the 100block of West 10th Avenue in the 1970’s and 1980’s, that served as a catalyst to save thearea. According to Pat Davis, the city at that time was uninterested in saving anythinganywhere, let alone Mount Pleasant, and would not even allow an addition onto the backof one of their smaller homes to encourage its retention.’2In 1980, a private consultant identified over 100 buildings in the area as beingarchitecturally meritorious. Responding to the possibility of preserving some of thehistoric character of the area without having to spend any tax money, the city rezoned partof Mount Pleasant to allow for conversions and renovations to retain the old houses, paidfor by a bonus arrangement that allowed developers to build infill housing on some sites.Infill was introduced to the area in 1982, when it was rezoned to the same RT-2A zone11. Kiuckner, p. 91.12. Kiuckner, p. 96.82created for Kitsilano. However, many of the early efforts at conversion and infill provedto be unsympathetic restorations and did little to preserve the neighbourhood character.In addition, despite some of the authentic restoration activity occurring in theneighbourhood, the area continued to face redevelopment pressures in the form ofapartment and commercial development.Today, West Mount Pleasant is one of four areas identified in the Vancouver HeritageInventory as a special area whose character should be preserved. A new zone, RT-6, wasintroduced in 1988, which included strict design guidelines. Character retention isachieved by strict conversion of existing buildings and landscape features, as evensensitive modifications to their character may compromise them. Infill is the preferreddevelopment option, along with restoration of the existing building where needed.13Redevelopment decisions are negotiated between the city and the developer. A developerthat who is willing to fit his plans in with the character of Mount Pleasant is rewardedby being allowed to build to a higher density. If a developer chooses to buildunsympathetic houses in defiance of the neighbourhoods established character, they cannotbuild anything large enough to justify the effort. New multiple and infill development ispermitted on sites that contain out-of-character dwellings, but must be built to reflect theearly architectural styles of the neighbourhood.13. City of Vancouver Planning Department, RT-4 RT-4A’ RT-5, RT-6, RT-7 and RT-8 Guidelines. July, 1990.83Figure 4.4 West Mount Pleasant: Heritage Building with InfillThe construction of new buildings that look old is sometimes referred to as ersatz’heritage, and is often criticized by preservationists. In the words of Michael Kiuckner,the two may look the same, but there is no intellectual or emotional significance to thelatter ... it is the difference between the main street of an old town... and “Main Street,U.S.A.” in the heart of Disneyland”.’4 According to Rob Whitlock, a planner with theCity of Vancouver, the residents were not against contemporary architecture, but therewasn’t any being built in the city that instilled any confidence to the residents. For thatreason, they chose to stick to the traditional forms.’5 The house shown in Figure 4.5,H. Kiuckner, p. 9415. Personal interview. July 21. 1994.84built in 1986, motivated many residents to push for strict design guidelines, and perhapsexplains their lack of confidence in contemporary design.Nonetheless, the new zoning district and design guidelines appear to be effective inencouraging the retention of the existing housing stock. In a consultants study preparedfor the city in 1980, 97 houses between Cambie, Ontario, 10th and 16th Avenues wereidentified as having potential character merit.’6 In 1994, 92 of those houses remain, withthree of the five demolitions occurring in the RM-4 apartment zone on the north side of10th Avenue, just outside the RT-6 area. In addition, numerous buildings not identifiedon the list have been restored, including two which are now designated heritageFigure 4.5 Mega House at Columbia Street and West 15th Avenue16. Henriquez Productions Ltd., Mount Pleasant Area: A Heritage Character Area Inventory and Assessment withRecommendations. Vancouver. 1980.85buildings.’7 Twenty-five infill dwellings have been constructed in the area between 1985and 1994: 12 were added to the rear of multiple conversion dwellings, and 13 were addedto the rear of newly constructed multiple dwellings.As a comparison, the 1976 Fairview Slopes Policy Plan, the intent of which was toencourage the retention of old houses to maintain a diversity of old and new buildings,listed 77 houses which were felt to he of character merit, three of which were designatedheritage buildings. By 1994, 25 of the houses on the list remained, or less than a third.’817. Field survey, July 1994.18. Field survey, July 1994.Figure 4.6 Heritage “Retention” in Fairview Slopes86Of the 25, five were incorporated into medium-density condominium developments, twoof which are shown in Figure 4.6. Obviously, if retention is to be an objective, densitiesmust be in keeping with the existing character of the area. Moderate increases can beachieved through sensitive infill development.First Shaughnessy District: The First Shaughnessy area is an exclusive residential enclavefounded by the CPR at the turn of the century. The general layout of Shaughnessy washeavily influenced by the work of Frederick Law Olmstead, who was responsible for thedesign of many parks and neighbourhoods in many North American cities between the1850’s and 1890’s. Shaughnessy is the city’s most elite residential suburb and importantheritage landscape. It has a garden-like setting with curving streets and large lots rangingfrom one-fifth to one and a half acres. Shaughnessy reveals the impact that deliberateplanning and restrictive zoning can have on neighbourhood development.’9To secure the exclusive nature of the district, the Province passed the ShaughnessySettlement Act in 1914, to secure the use for single family dwellings. In 1922, a furtheract was passed by the Province, the Shaughnessy Heights Building Restriction Act, againto firm up the exclusive nature of Shaughnessy. This Act served several purposes: iteffectively removed all zoning control from the municipality; it prohibited furthersubdivision; and it extended the boundaries of the Settlement Act to include Second19. City of Vancouver Planning Department, Shaughnessy: A Community Profile. 1993.87Shaughnessy (the area south of King Edward Avenue).20In the depression that followed the 1920ts, Shaughnessy entered a period of decline andwas dubbed “Mortgage Heightstt. Many of the largest homes were converted to roominghouses, and more modest houses were built as infill on the former multi-acre parcels andon vacant, unsold lots. During World War II, the Federal government, faced with asevere housing shortage, issued an order-in-council under the authority of the WMeasures Act, to permit the establishment of multi-family dwellings in areas previouslynot zoned for such. The adaptability of Shaughnessy mansions for such purposes wasseized upon and many single-family homes were converted to rooming or lodging houses.By 1957, 161 of the 533 houses in First Shaughnessy (30 percent) were in multipleoccupancy use.2’The Building Restriction Act of 1922 expired in 1970, and for the first time, theneighbourhood became subject to the zoning provisions of the city. The RS-4 DistrictSchedule that came into effect that year was accompanied by a plan that indicated thepossibilities of creating many new lots on existing streets and developing cul-de-sacswithin existing parcels of land. The plan, which was not adopted, would have opened upthe area to drastic changes.20. City of Vancouver Planning Department, First Shaughnessy Plan Background Report. May, 1982.21. Ibid.88In response to land development pressures of the 1960’s and 1970’s, in which many largehomes were demolished and properties subdivided, the Shaughnessy Heights PropertyOwners Association (SHPOA) commissioned an independent consultant in 1976 to preparea Plan for the area. The primary concern of the residents was to conserve and maintainthe legacy of older homes and landscaped estates in the face of increasing housing costs.The costs of heating, maintenance and taxes associated with the larger homes were adeterrent to buyers looking for a new home. The subdivision regulations of the day alsoprovided an incentive for demolition, where older mansions sat on properties that qualifiedfor subdivision. Consequently, many older homes of heritage merit were demolished andreplaced with new houses, many of which were out of character with the area. Accordingto Joyce Catliff, a member of the association, “it was zoning that was presiding over thedestruction of the neighbourhood. It was the zoning that had to go.” To rationalize theland economics while still preserving the large houses, some as large as 10,000 squarefeet, you “had to get rid of literal subdivision and bring in infihl housing, and you had toallow some dwellings to be converted to multiple dwellings to preserve them. This wentagainst the single family ethos.”22In response to the private study, Council approved the Shaughnessy Planning Study in1979, to prepare a plan to protect the historic character of the area. The area was rezonedfrom RS-4 (One-Family Dwelling District) to the new FSD (First Shaughnessy District)in 1982, along with the First Shaughnessy Official Development Plan. The following22. Presentation to Plan 527 class, October 26, 1990.89proposals were adopted into the plan:23a) Conversion Option: To allow certain large pre-1940 meritorioushouses and non-conforming multiple residential properties toredevelop as multiple conversion dwellings, provided they complywith zoning regulations and design guidelines for the area;b) Infill Option: To allow secondary infill development at the rearand/or side of large sites provided the site is occupied by a pre1940 principal building and this development complies with zoningregulations and design guidelines for the area; andc) Subdivision Option: To increase the subdivision standards forminimum parcel size and configuration to complement theestablished and prevailing subdivision pattern in the area.Figure 4.7 Side-Lot Infihl: First Shaughnessy23. First Shaughrtessy Plan Background Report. May 1982.90These options are intended to recycle the use of large homes and intensify developmenton large sites in a way that protects the unique character of the area. The conversionoption allows existing multiple conversion dwellings and pre-1940 houses over 650 m2(7,000 ft2) to be converted to a maximum of four conversion units. The infill optionallows additional infill dwellings, up to a maximum of four, on sites exceeding 2140 m2(23,000 ft2) in area. In most cases the new conversions and infill dwellings are sold asstrata units. To further discourage demolition, minimum subdivision standards wereincreased to a minimum of 30.48 m (100 ft) in width and 1208 m2 (13,000 ft2) in area.The infill option provides an alternative to subdivision while allowing more intensiveresidential development on large sites in the form of new secondary dwellings, or bylegitimizing existing secondary dwellings (such as coach and guest houses) for residentialuse. Infill dwellings must be secondary to the original dwelling, and generally imitate thesame architectural style. Of the 590 lots in the First Shaughnessy District, approximately80 might qualify for infill, depending on the quality and condition of the existing house.24Infill and multiple conversions are a conditional use, and all proposals for them arereviewed by the First Shaughnessy Advisory Design Panel, whose intent is to ensure newdevelopment maintains the area character. The panel is comprised of four residents anda representative from the Heritage Advisory Committee, the Architectural Institute ofB.C., the B.C. Society of Landscape Architects and the Planning Department. However,the use of a residential property for a single-family dwelling in the city is an outright one,24. Gret Sutherland, former city representative on the First Shaughnessy Advisory Design Panel, as quoted in theVancouver Sun, October 29, 1988, p. E5.91not a conditional one. Therefore, pre-1940 homes can be demolished and replaced withsingle family dwellings, without going before the Design Panel. Only three houses in allof Shaughnessy are effectively protected by existing legislation. Despite this, MichaelKluckner, a prominent Vancouver heritage advocate, believes that the First ShaughnessyOfficial Development Plan has been successful in preserving the streetscapes andhistorical quality of the neighbourhood, by allowing conversions, “coupled with discreetand well-designed infill buildings.”254.3 Infifi Initiatives in Single-Family NeighbourhoodsTechnically, infill one-family dwellings are allowed as a conditional use in Vancouver’ssingle-family zones. However, the infill unit must be for a caretaker, and can only bebuilt on sites having a minimum area of 3,000 m2 (0.75 acres). There are only about 100lots of that size in Vancouver’s single-family (RS) neighbourhoods. Despite theserestraints, current and past provisions in Vancouver’s Zoning By-law have allowed infihlto occur in single-family neighbourhoods, under limited circumstances.4.31 Thin HousesThe issue of thin houses in single-family neighbourhoods received considerable attentionin Vancouver newspapers in 1980, when residents in West Point Grey were faced withfour thin house proposals in the space of a few months. Thin houses are a form of smalllot, or side-lot infill. A typical thin house was approximately 4 m (13 ft) wide, built on25. Michael Kiuckner, p. 108.925 m (16.5 ft) wide lot. Most of the narrow half-lots were purchased by adjacenthomeowners early in the city’s history, to enlarge their regular 10 m (33 ft) wide lots.Many were simply used as gardens. There are approximately 485 narrow lots (24 feetor less) in single family neighbourhoods, with the heaviest concentration in the west sideof the city. Approximately 20 thin houses were constructed in the city between 1968 and1987.Thin houses became very controversial, with many of the objections relating to issues ofneighbourliness. In many cases, where permits were issued for development of a thinhouse, neighbours would appeal to the Board of Variance to have the decision overturned.Negative effects on neighbourhood character, devalued property values, density andparking were the most common concerns. When a thin house was proposed in his block,a local alderman became a vocal opponent to the by-law. The RS-1 District ZoningSchedule was amended on January 5, 1988, to specify that the minimum width of a sitefor a one-family dwelling shall be 7.3 m (24 ft). Further, the Director of Planning wasnot permitted to relax the minimum width requirement.26 Existing narrow lots becameundevelopable on their own and can now only be developed by consolidating with anadjacent parcel, to form a larger lot.The issue of thin houses may not be over. Technically, thin houses could still be builtin Vancouver in other zoning districts such as RT-2 (Two-Family Dwelling), which does26. Ibid., p. 43.93not have a minimum width stipulation. There are several narrow 5 m (16.5 ft)-wideparcels in RT-2 areas of Kitsilano. In addition, houses as thin as 3 m (10 ft) in widthhave been built recently in Victoria. Although the Victoria thin houses have been verycontroversial, some of the neighbours who originally opposed them changed their mindsafter touring the inside of one of the 110 m2 (1,200 ft2) homes.27Figure 4.8 A Vancouver Thin House27. Steve Whysall. “Small Pleasures’, The Vancouver Sun. June 27. 1993.944.32 Infifi and Heritage RetentionThe development of a second detached dwelling in a single-family neighbourhood can bepermitted in certain circumstances. Section 3.2.6 of Vancouver’s Zoning andDevelopment By-law permits the Director of Planning or the Development Permit Boardto relax Zoning regulations where “literal enforcement would result in unnecessaryhardship in carrying out any restoration of buildings or sites on the Vancouver HeritageInventory ...“. Section 3.2.6(h) instructs the Director of Planning to “notify such adjacentproperty owners and tenants as deemed necessary, consider the responses received, andif there is significant objection, refer the matter to Council for advice ••••28To be considered for infill in residential zones where it is not a conditional use, the sitemust be:• listed on the Vancouver Heritage Inventory;• comprised of more than one legal parcel;• otherwise subdividable; or• otherwise meritorious.The dwelling shown in Figure 4.9 was one of the first sites in an RS- 1 neighbourhood tobe developed with infihl under this clause. The site, located at 3846 West 10th Avenue,was composed of two legal parcels, and developed with an “A” building on theVancouver Heritage Inventory. Built in 1929, it is the City’s best example of a residentialmoderne structure. The heritage building overlapped the second lot, thereby makingoutright development of the second lot, while retaining the heritage building, unworkable.28. City of Vancouver, Zoning and Development By-law, No. 3575. 199495Figure 4.9 3846 West 10th AvenueA development permit application was submitted in 1989 to consolidate the two lots,restore and designate the heritage house, and construct an infill dwelling to the rear of theheritage house.29 The style of the infill dwelling complements the heritage house, and twoparking spaces are incorporated into the infill dwelling. Since the two lots would beconsolidated to permit two strata units, the proposal also required a relaxation of theregulation which permits one principal dwelling on a site and an adjustment to above-basement floor space ratio calculations to accommodate a second dwelling.Qualitative Analysis: As shown in Figure 4.10, the potential development of two single-29. City of Vancouver, Managers Report to Standing Committee on Neighbourhood Issues and Services, June 14, 1989,and Development Permit file (DP209056).96family dwellings would create greater overshadowing of adjacent lots than retention ofthe existing building with an infill development. The shadow pattern of the infill dwellingis similar to that which would occur if two garages were constructed in the rear yard.The infill scheme maintains the rear yard open space intended in the RS-l Schedule andis consistent with adjacent properties. The existing lawn area to the east is maintained,which provides context for the heritage building, and open area for the eastern neighbour.The infill dwelling and the alterations to the rear of the heritage building were designedto prevent overlooking into the neighbouring properties.Figure 4.10 Context Plan of Infifi Development at 3846 West 10th AvenueWeet 10th AvenueLiiaiIäLaneu Shadow, at 10 am March 21st• Shadows at 2 pm. March 21stGarage Garage97Figure 4.11 Technical Analysis: Infifi at 3846 West 10th AvenueInfill Scheme Permitted Outright(2 houses, 1 lot) (2 houses, 2 lots)Total FSR 4835.5 sq.ft. 4847.0 sq.ft. (0.6 FSR)Above-Basement FSR 4407.0 sq.ft. 4423.0 sq.ft. (0.3+1000)Site Coverage 2704.5 sq.ft. 3231.0 sq.ft. (40%)Height:Existing Bldg. 21.00 ft. Houses: 30.00 ft.Infill Bldg. 14-16 ft. Garages: 15.00 ft.Setbacks:Existing Bldg. House:Front: 40.3 ft. 24.5 ft.East: 21.9 ft. 3.3 ft.West: 5.5 ft. 3.3 ft.Rear: 42.0 ft. 55.1 ft.InfillEast: 11.0 ft. 0.0 ft. (potential)West: 10.0 ft. 0.0 ft. (potential)Bldg. Location within 26 ft. of within 26 ft. ofrear bldg. line rear bldg. lineRear: 2.0 ft. 2.0 ft.The primary living spaces in the infihl dwelling face into the subject lot, away from thelane and properties to the north. The existing and infill dwellings are below the permittedheight stipulated in the RS-1 Schedule. Therefore, the infihl scheme has less impact onviews from properties to the rear than would the development of two new dwellings onthe site. In addition, the infihl scheme maintains the panoramic views to the north fromadjacent houses, which would be cut off if two outright dwellings were constructed on thesite.Neighbourhood Responses: Eighteen surrounding property owners were notified of thisproposal by the Planning Department. Seven objections were received from neighbours98to the rear of the site, one of which was outside the notification area. These objectionswere primarily to the construction of a dwelling on the lane, the bulk of the proposedbuilding, and to the interruption of the one-house to one-lot pattern of the neighbourhood.Three letters of support were also received, two of which were from the neighboursimmediately adjacent to the site. A second notification was sent out by the PlanningDepartment to clarify the total floor space ratio (FSR) of the scheme. The architect alsoheld an open house to discuss the impact of the development with the neighbours. As aresult of input from the neighbourhood, the design of the infill dwelling was revised toreduce the bulk by eliminating one carport and changing the garage to a carport.Subsequently, one letter of objection was withdrawn and two additional neighbourssupported the scheme.In summary, the infill scheme allowed the retention of a unique heritage building, whileproviding a neighbourly response to the adjacent properties by preserving views andminimizing overshadowing. The infihl dwelling is contained within an area that wouldnormally accommodate two garages under the RS- 1 schedule, is no greater in height andbulk than two garages, and provides a similar garden area between the buildings as onadjacent sites.4.33 Rezoning Single-Family Neighbourhoods for InfifiOne eastside single-family neighbourhood in Vancouver has been rezoned to permit infill,and a current rezoning proposal to allow infill on a large west side estate will probably99go to Public Hearing in September, 1994. The first case offers an example of how infillcan be successfully integrated into an existing single-family neighbourhood, while thesecond demonstrates the pressures to intensify that remaining large sites throughout thecity are likely to be subjected to in future. In many respects, the economic realities ofthese large properties are similar to those that threatened the large estates in FirstShaughnessy District. It would seem logical that the same measures be taken to preservethem.Riverside: The Riverside community is located between the north shore of the FraserRiver and Southeast Marine Drive in the southeast part of the city. It is one of two areasoutside of the central core in which infill is encouraged, the other being Southiands, at thesouthwest corner of the city. Southlands, a semi-rural area comprised of large lots, mostexceeding 0.9 hectares (2.25 acres), permits a single infill dwelling on lots that meet sizerequirements, as long as a stable to accommodate at least ten horses is also provided.Changes to the Riverside area emerged from a planning study of the Fraser Lands, fromArgyle Street to east of Elliott Street, done in the early 1980’s. The industrial activityalong the river was physically separated from the existing single family (RS-1)neighbourhoods at the west and east portions of the study area. A large wooded areadivided the two neighbourhoods. Both neighbourhoods contain long narrow lots rangingfrom 9.1 m (30 ft) to 18.2 m (60 ft) in width, and from 49 m (160 ft) to 61 m (200 ft)in depth. Many of the lots slope southward and have commanding views.100Two zoning amendments were approved for the Riverside neighbourhood. The existingindustrial zone along the water would remain as is. A Comprehensive Development(CD-I) zone was approved to allow for the development of a 400 unit, medium-densityresidential neighbourhood on vacant land. The existing RS- 1 neighbourhoods wererezoned to a new zone, RS-1B, to allow some densification of the area in the form ofinfill housing, while preserving its single family character. The majority of the arearesidents supported the changes to allow infill. The zoning report, which was preparedin consultation with various city departments, private consultants and a Citizens LiaisonCommittee in 1983, stated:It is intended that this zoning district schedule could have a broaderapplication to other areas of the City. In this regard, however, somemodifications of the specific regulations and guidelines may be necessaryto facilitate its general application.30Figure 4.12 Orientation on Typical RS-1B SiteIF30. Vancouver Planning Department, Riverside Village Zoning Report. June, 1983, P. 10.101The new zones were enacted in August 1983. Infill dwellings must be designed to respectthe privacy of the principal dwelling, the neighbouring dwellings and the secondarydwelling. They should also have an identifiable presence at the street and a clear meansof access to and from the street.6120 MacDonald Street: The existing house at 6120 MacDonald, built in 1921, is oneof only nine Georgian Revival houses on Vancouvers west side listed on the VancouverHeritage Inventory and one of the two not located in First Shaughnessy. Together withthe two listed heritage buildings to the south, the house forms part of a listed streetscape,important for their architectural value and landscape setting. The 0.56 hectare (1.38 acre)Figure 4.13 8400 Block of Victoria Drive-102site is comprised of three legal parcels, two with 20.1 m (66 ft) of frontage. the other with14.3 m (47 ft). All parcels are 102.1 m (335.1 ft) in depth. The existing 512 m2(5,500 ft2) house straddles the two northerly lots. The entire property is heavily treed: thisblock as a whole has one of the citys largest non-parkiand concentrations of matureconiferous trees, interspersed with other mature specimens.Figure 4.14 Site at 6120 MacDonald StreetIn December, 1992, the current owner applied to subdivide the property into four parcels:two fronting MacDonald Street, and two fronting West 45th Avenue. The proposal,which involved the demolition of the existing house, was refused in April 1993. Asecond application was made the following month, which proposed five parcels, with theexisting dwelling being modified and relocated to one of the parcels. This proposal wasFigure 4.15IEF..£*Sp..C.Subdivision Proposals: 6120 MacDonald Street45th Ave.103C,):9IAID..’ (187.00)— S S——•BF.C.(117,00) 1IGIi8 ILOOmIOj21b’ lL001J I I L_ tU,45th Ave.5.33ft)liii 11111 liii_____________________________ ___________________40.538 mI3aI1”2, jl £liii 3 4 i 503.C0Il I S.. ___. —._. Pi H.rltage ‘I ! Hous. II4êS3Im(133.00I-lane104also refused, in July 1993. The owner appealed the decision of the City’s ApprovingOfficer to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, but the decision was upheld.3’Because of the contentious nature of both subdivision proposals, surrounding residentswere notified of both applications. Most neighbours strenuously objected to bothproposals. The Approving Officer concluded that the proposals would injuriously affectthe established amenities of adjoining or adjacent parcels, would set an inappropriateprecedent, because there was no comprehensive plan for the block, and were overall notin the public interest.The current application to rezone the site from RS-l (Single-Family) to CD-i(Comprehensive Development) to permit five infill one-family dwellings and retention ofthe existing dwelling is not without controversy, given that there is a change to theprevailing single family zoning of the area. The rezoning, if approved, would enable thepreservation the heritage building, the important streetscape and a significant portion ofthe landscaped setting.The design of the infill houses would reflect detailing consistent with the character of theexisting house and would be finished with wood shingle roofs, brick chimneys, dividedwood windows and stucco to match the existing house. The infill houses would have31. Under the provisions of the Land Title Act, a subdivider who is aggrieved by the decision of the Approving Officerhas one month after receipt of that decision to file an appeal. City Council and the Board of Variance have nojurisdiction in subdivision matters.105floor areas ranging from 349 m2 to 458 m2 (3,754. to 4,928 ft2), and would each be pricedin the $1.2 million range. The total floor space area is the same as would be allowedunder current zoning (0.6 FSR), while site coverage is reduced to 22 percent of site area,as opposed to 40 percent under RS- 1. City staff surveyed all trees on site to determinetheir species, size and condition. Forty-six “good” trees were identified along with sixlarge, but previously topped trees. Most of those would likely be removed fordevelopment under existing zoning. The current rezoning proposal retains all except twoof the notable trees, which in itself is a significant environmental benefit. A site planshows the proposed locations of the dwellings in Figure 4.16.Figure 4.16 Context Plan of Infifi Development at 6120 MacDonald StreetWEST 45Th AVE.106Comprehensive Development zones (CD-i) are a discretionary form of zoning, that offersseveral advantages over conventional zoning. Regulations are site specific, and allow fornegotiation over density, design, siting and landscaping, among other thing. They alsoallow for significant neighbourhood input. Design and landscaping issues cannot beeffectively addressed under conventional zones such as RS- 1. Under existing by-laws,the City cannot require any tree to be retained; rather, it can only require tree replacement.On a site with 50 m tall cedars and Douglas firs, this is not adequate. The CD-i rezoningaddresses most of the residents concerns dealing with character preservation and treeretention. Neighbourhood input led to several improvements to the proposal: increasedsetbacks, a reduction in the number of driveways and garages along 45th Avenue, and areduction in the number of notable trees to be removed (from 20 down to 2) because ofimproved siting of the infihl houses. None of this would have been possible under presentzoning, or under either of the two subdivision proposals. Following a public meetingattended by city staff on May ii, 1994, several residents who initially opposed theproposal changed their minds after the implications of not allowing it had been explained.Several mistakenly assumed that the City would have some control over design and treeretention under the current zoning.Robin Ward, a prominent Vancouver heritage advocate, stated in a recent newspapercolumn that:Development here is inevitable. The...plan will guarantee the mostpleasing aspects of its landscape setting. The alternative, under the presentzoning, would be three elongated monster houses replacing the existinghouse and virtually all the trees ... Permitting infill, where the site is large107enough, is still the most practical way in Vancouver of ensuring heritagehome preservation while accommodating development ... VancouverCouncil’s decision on this issue is keenly awaited. Changes to zoning insingle-family neighbourhoods are often hotly contested. But in this case,willingness to preserve heritage property, financed by architecturally well-mannered infill design, deserves prompt approval.324.4 Future Infifi Opportunities in Single-Family ZonesThe incremental nature of infill can result in a scale of building which is smaller andmore in keeping with a single-family neighbourhood, while still increasing density in asensitive manner. If owners of older, underutilized houses were encouraged to renovatethem, or had the option of adding their unused floor space area to the rear of the site, itcould prevent much of the demolition occurring in Vancouver today. The controversyover the mega-houses being built in Vancouver over the past decade is primarily relatedto the massing and bulkiness of these homes. Although recent changes in single-familyzones have reduced some of the massing, poor design continues to be rampant. Currentzoning and building by-laws are not sympathetic to those who would like to retain theirhomes, because any additions or dormers have to fit the same building envelope as doesnew construction. Those who persist are further deterred by lengthy approval times:permits for extensive modifications may take three months or longer, while permits fornew construction are sometimes issued in a week.The environmental costs of these policies are immense: the demolition of an average32. The Vancouver Sun, June 11, 1994.108Vancouver house produces 22 tonnes (44,000 pounds) of garbage. In the LowerMainland, about 25 to 30 percent of the garbage comes from demolition, construction andland clearing. In 1991, that added up to 830,000 tonnes of waste.33 Gypsum board mixedwith water produces sulphuric acid, paint contains lead and other harmful compounds andwood is full of preservatives. These eventually seep through the peat moss of the locallandfills and into the Fraser River.In terms of the housing form, infill is a relatively new concept in the Vancouver area.Although developed primarily as a tool to encourage retention of older characterbuildings, the examples illustrated so far indicate that infill can be applied to a variety ofsituations. The example of the Healthy House on Graveley Street, discussed in Chapter2, was constructed at the rear of a standard 10 by 37 m (33 by 122 ft) Vancouver lot.Infill units have been constructed on the majority of the long lots in the Riversidecommunity, some of which are only 9.1 m (30 ft) wide. Most of the conversions withinfill in the southeast part of Kitsilano and in West Mount Pleasant are being developedon 15.2 by 38.1 m (50 by 125 ft) lots. Typically, three units are contained in theconversion with a single-unit infill at the rear. The four required parking spaces areprovided behind or under the infill dwelling. Most infill dwellings being constructed inconversion areas range in size from 300 to 400 m2 (1,000 to 1,300 ft2). Typical infillunits in the Riverside community have areas in the 165 to 185 m2 (1,800 to 2,000 ft2)range, with larger yards than those in the conversion areas.33. Nicole Parton, The Real Price of Mega-houses Includes Tonnes of Garbage, Vancouver Sun, February 15, 1994.109Given the general preference for ground-based units, these examples could help establishinfill as a real development option, even for single-family neighbourhoods. The lot sizesmentioned above are typical of those in Vancouver’s single-family areas. However, infillis primarily a site planning issue. There has to be a portion of the lot that couldaccommodate a second dwelling, while providing sufficient yard space for both houses.Issues of privacy, overshadowing and neighbourliness must also be addressed. Infill ismore readily adaptable to sites with rear lanes, because parking and access are easier toaddress. Although rear-lot infill can be developed on sites without lane access, mostexisting houses cannot accommodate a driveway to the side, and it is difficult to providesufficient parking.As demonstrated with the heritage building at 3846 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver offerssome creative solutions to encourage the retention of heritage buildings. However, manymore modest buildings not identified on the heritage inventory do not have such optionsavailable to encourage their preservation. A recently approved subdivision at 6320 LarchStreet in Kerrisdale involved the demolition of a character building, the gardens of whichwere illustrated in Western Living magazine. In April, 1994, 80 people attended aneighbourhood vigil to mourn the destruction of the house and large trees on the site.34Had the house been on the Heritage Inventory, infill could have been successfully appliedto this site. The existing dwelling and much of the trees and gardens could have beenpreserved, and the character of the streetscape retained.34. Vancouver Courier, April 24, 1994.110Figure 4.17 6320 Larch Street, After the ClearcutInfill could also be successfully applied to unusually large or long sites throughout thecity. While it is beyond the scope of this study to determine this potential, a review oftypical lot sizes and siting requirements of past RS-1 by-laws would seem to indicate alarge number of single-family lots in the city could accommodate an infill unit. Inaddition, the large rear yards provided for under the current by-law (45 percent of lotdepth) could easily accommodate infill dwellings in future, if the floor space ratio wasraised from 0.60 to 0.75, as in some multiple conversion areas.Most of the city’s single-family neighbourhoods are served by hack lanes to accommodatecars and service vehicles, which is a considerable plus for infill development. Out of the111approximately 200,000 dwellings in Vancouver, approximately 70,000 are single-familydetached houses. About 55 percent of single-family (RS zoned) lots are 10 m (33 ft)wide and less than 460 m2 (5,000 ft2) in area: 65 percent are located east of Cambie Streetalthough there are some in West Point Grey and Dunbar. Most large lots over 550 m2(6,000 ft2) in area are located west of Cambie Street. About 11 percent of lots in 1986were at least 20 m (66 ft) wide. In 1986, the City had approximately 14,000 lots in singlefamily zones that exceeded 39.6 m (130 ft) in depth. Of those, about 7,300 were from39.9 to 42.4 m (131 to 139 ft) deep, 3,170 were from 42.7 to 45.4 m (140 to 149 ft) deep,and 3,500 were over 45.7 m (150 ft) deep. From 1930 to 1986 a minimum front yardsetback of 7.3 m (24 ft) was required in RS- 1 areas. About 85 percent of single-familydwellings were built to the minimum front yard setback, with the remainder, on deeperlots, built further from the street.35 Since then, a minimum front setback of 20 percentof lot depth has been required. The current by-law also requires a 45 percent rear yard,with all accessory buildings and parking contained in the rear 8 m (26 ft) of lots havinglane access. The infill unit built behind the heritage house at 3846 West 10th Avenue wasaccommodated within that portion of the lot.If infill was permitted as a conditional use on the 14,000 lots over 39.6 m (130 ft) indepth, many of which should have large rear yards, based on the front yard setbacksrequired from 1930 to the present, a significant number of ground-oriented housingopportunities could be created. The various infill dwellings created in other zones35. Stanbury and Todd, p. 12.112demonstrate that issues of privacy, neighbourliness and parking can be effectivelyaddressed. Visually, some infill dwellings do not stand out much more than some of thelarge garages being built in single family areas today.The high land values in the city are changing the streetscape of Vancouver’s single-familyneighbourhoods. Even in areas such as Oakridge, which was developed in the 1950’s,many of the original homes have already been demolished and replaced with largerhouses. Development pressures are so strong that some of the luxurious houses builtaround 1960 are no longer considered to make the best use of their lots, and are thusprime targets for sale at lot value. Most lots in the Oakridge area are large, ranging from15.2 to 24.4 m (50 to 80 ft.) in width, and 36.5 to 42.7 m (120 to 140 ft) in depth. Anew house on a typical 18.3 by 36.5 m (60 by 120 ft) lot can have 670 m2 (4,320 ft2) offloor area, and sell for well above $1 million.Infill could be implemented in Vancouver’s single-family areas by maintaining the existingfloor space ratio (FSR) of 0.6, but allowing the option of splitting it into a 0.4/0.2 ratio.Owners of older homes, many of which are built to 0.45 FSR or less, would have theoption of placing their additional FSR in the rear portion of the lot, in an infill unit.Criteria of open space, privacy, light and air penetration would determine the maximumsize of a building that would be permitted. Relaxations may be required to abovebasement floor space ratio calculations in order to accommodate a second dwelling.Detached infill dwellings present fewer building by-law problems than do secondary113suites, because of the large separation from the existing building. For some, an infill unitmay be a preferable source of income than a secondary suite, allowing the homeownermore privacy.Of course, owners could still have the option of adding to their existing house to bringit up to the 0.6 FSR, or demolish and rebuild. Builders of new homes could also havethe option of building one home at 0.6 FSR, or a smaller house and an infihl using the0.4/0.2 split. On a 557 m2 (6,000 ft2) lot, a 223 m2 (2,400 ft2) house could be retained orbuilt in the regular building envelope, with a 111 m2 (1,200 ft2) infill unit built in the rear7.9 m (26 ft) of the lot required of accessory buildings. The principal dwelling would bemore in keeping with the scale of existing older houses than would a 334 m2 (3,600 ft2)house, and the smaller infill dwelling would remain secondary to the front dwelling. Asmentioned previously, the Riverside Village zoning report stated that the RS-1B zoningcreated for that neighbourhood could have a broader application to other areas of the City.In this regard, however, some modifications of the specific regulations and guidelines maybe necessary to facilitate its general application. In Vancouvertsconversion areas, infillis permitted, on appropriate sites, as an incentive to retain the existing house. Alldevelopment permits for infill are subject to the condition that the existing house cannotbe demolished without the approval of the Director of Planning.The large homes built in Vancouver’s conversion areas and First Shaughnessy early in thecentury soon became uneconomic to maintain as single-family residences. The same114future may await the large houses being built in todays single-family neighbourhoods,especially those on larger lots. A report prepared by the City of New WestminsterPlanning Department found that 60 percent of all new houses and 90 percent of housesover 3,500 square feet were designed for conversion to multiple accommodation, and thatthe size of households was larger than in smaller homes.36In conclusion, much of the cities future ground-oriented housing stock could beaccommodated in the city’s single-family areas, through the processes of conversion andsensitive infill development. Retention opportunities by way of additions and infill areachievable if some consideration is given to a review of zoning by-law constraints, witha view to modifying them to the extent necessary to encourage these activities, while atthe same time maintaining adequate standards of safety, service and access. Infill has thepotential to encourage retention of existing homes and streetscapes, but does involve asacrifice of much of the rear yard space. Pressures to intensify in the single familydistricts are likely to increase, because of high land costs and because they are convenientto downtown workplaces and activities.36. City of New Westminster, A Report on Large Houses in the City of New Westminster, 1988, p. 41.1155.0 Findings and Conclusions5.1 Determining a Future Role for InfillAs more and more of the older homes and gardens in Vancouver are demolished, thecharacter of the city has drastically changed. The premise of this thesis is that theprovision of small-scale infill development in urban areas can play a vital role inencouraging housing retention, as well as provide good quality ground-oriented housingon a cost-effective basis. However, the suburban bias and regulatory environment in mostCanadian municipalities is a significant barrier to the development of alternative housingforms such as rear-lot infill. In this era of recycling, demolition of good quality housingbecause of outdated by-laws is unfortunate.Current residential zoning by-laws often discourage alternative housing forms, by strictlyregulating development in single family areas. Despite the social, demographic andeconomic changes over the last two decades, our cities have not experienced a similarlevel of physical change. In the Vancouver region, the amount of residential land zonedfor single family use is not indicative of present household formation. For many, thesingle-family zone reduces access to people and activities. In Ontario, the InclusiveNeighbourhoods Campaign (ll’TC) defines such zoning practices as exclusionary and aviolation of rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom and the OntarioHuman Rights Code.116Significant pressures are emerging for change in the pattern of urban residentialdevelopment and urban land use in general. Continued low density fringe developmentis costly and inefficient, for both the individual and society. Yet, increasing residentialdensities in already developed areas presents serious regulatory and political problems,particularly in single-family areas. Higher residential densities contravene many existingbuilding codes, zoning by-laws and official plans, and are often resisted by local residents.Many residents are apprehensive about new housing forms, fearing that neighbourhoodswill undergo dramatic and adverse change. In some neighbourhoods and in someinstances, these fears may be valid. At the same time, there is considerable evidencedemonstrating that infihl housing can be successfully integrated within existingcommunities.The City of Vancouver is expected to grow by 160,000 people and 100,000 householdsby the year 2021. The variety of household forms that are emerging will require a varietyof solutions. Alternative housing must be affordable, accessible, and provide moreopportunities for sharing and support. While much of this housing growth will beaccommodated in high-density residential developments, Vancouver will also need toprovide additional ground-oriented housing to meet the varying needs of its growingpopulation. The variety of housing produced through intensification initiatives such asinfill may help people of different ages and incomes live and stay in their neighbourhoodsas their age and lifestyle changes.117To compete with other forms of housing, infihl must demonstrate its advantages overcomparable dwellings. Infill housing has been used to create innovative forms of low-rise, medium-density, and ground related housing that offer enhanced liveability andincreased individual identity. It is also a renewal strategy. By adding population andamenity to an area, and improving the use of existing services without adding to publiccosts, it serves a social purpose. It can influence a neighbourhoods environment byresponding in its design or location to elements in the neighbourhood, contributing in turnto the neighbourhoods continuity, scale and character.Alternative housing forms such as infill may be expected to encounter opposition. It maytake the form of local opposition or inflexibility on the part of administrative authorities.By definition, innovative projects do not operate within the existing boundaries ofadministrative or political control, and are thus vulnerable to opportunistic attack. If thereis to be innovation, politicians and bureaucrats will have to eliminate obstacles, andacquire a sense of experimentation. Effective approaches to urban infill can help unlockland located near working areas that are already fully serviced, and may provide lowerpriced ground-oriented housing in a market that is currently beyond the financial reachof many home buyers. Infill, by providing additional ground-oriented housing notcommon in the region today, may encourage a healthier lifestyle, in which walking andbicycling become viable transportation alternatives.The GVRD’s Livable Region Plan, Burnabys Compaction Plan, the Vancouver Plan and118CityPlan demonstrate that planners are in favour of intensification and have tried topromote it. However, attempts to introduce change into single-family neighbourhoodshave generally ended in failure, because of a lack of public support and political will.However, CityPlan, by involving the public in the preparation of plans for accommodatingfuture growth in the City, has done a better job in educating the public of the need forchange. The first 1,000 responses to the Futures questionnaire show that with regard toland use topics, 84 percent of respondents are in favour of a new future that adds newhousing, jobs and services to existing single-family areas, either through neighbourhoodcentres (62 %) or through scattered redevelopment (22 %). Eight percent support a futurewhich continues to redevelop industrial land for housing. Surprisingly, only eight percentvoted to limit growth.’5.2 RecommendationsMuch of the cities future ground-oriented housing stock could be accommodated in thecity’s single-family areas, through the processes of conversion and sensitive infilldevelopment. Retention opportunities by way of additions and infill are achievable ifsome consideration is given to a review of zoning by-law constraints, with a view tomodifying them to the extent necessary to encourage these activities, while at the sametime maintaining adequate standards of safety, service and access. Infill has the potentialto encourage retention of existing homes and streetscapes, but does involve a sacrifice ofmuch of the rear yard space. Pressures to intensify in the single family districts are likely1. City of Vancouver. Planning at a Glance, Volume 2. City of Vancouver Planning Department, 2nd Quarter, 1994.119to increase, because of high land costs and because they are convenient to downtownworkplaces and activities.In Vancouver, single-family zones should be changed to allow infill development.Areas with surplus physical infrastructure (such as sewer capacity), surpluscommunity services (schools, community centres and parks) and good transitaccess to employment should be identified. The existing floor space ratio (FSR)of 0.6 could be maintained, with the option of splitting the floor area at a ratio of0.4 for the front (principal) dwelling, and 0.2 for the rear infill dwelling. Thismay encourage housing retention, as well as encourage new development at ascale in keeping with older existing dwellings.• Municipalities should review their zoning, subdivision and building by-laws forconsistency with market demands, with a view to modifying them to the extentnecessary to encourage housing retention (additions, dormers, infill), whilemaintaining adequate standards of safety, service and access. Permits for infillhousing should be easier to obtain, with some modifications of regulations andguidelines to facilitate its general application.• Communities should begin to access the environmental implications of housingdemolition, and incorporate these factors into their policies and by-laws. Tougherdemolition by-laws should be implemented. The reuse of existing buildingssupports environmental objectives by conserving resources and thereby energy bynot having to manufacture new materials. Communities should also encourage therecycling and reuse of construction materials from demolition. Materials such asdrywall, wood and bricks can be recycled. Architectural elements such as doors,windows, cornices and stonework can also be reused.• In cities with vacant parcels of land in existing neighbourhoods, infill opportunitiesshould be inventoried by municipalities and publicized in the public sector.• An education program should be established for the public, explaining municipaldevelopment plans and alleviating fears and concerns. Neighbourhoods should beaware of the benefits of improved sites in terms of their own real estate values.In the interim, there may be additional infill opportunities in Vancouver’s single-familyand other residential zones which do not permit infill, without drastic changes to current120by-laws. Infill could be encouraged on large or irregular sites where subdivision is notpractical, or where subdivision necessitates the demolition of an existing dwelling. Othermunicipalities should follow Vancouver’s lead in using infill as an incentive for heritageretention. Municipalities which are interested in encouraging a more efficient use ofinfrastructure through intensification should not limit the scope of their interest toconversion activity.Jane Jacobs, in “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, stated that in seekingvisual order, cities are able to choose among three broad alternatives: (1) they can aimfor areas of homogeneity which look homogenous, and get results depressing anddisorienting, (2) aim for areas of homogeneity which try not to look homogenous, and getresults of vulgarity and dishonesty, or (3) they can aim for areas of great diversity and,because real differences are thereby expressed, can get results which, at worst, are merelyinteresting, and at best can be delightful.2 The variety of household forms that areemerging will require a variety of solutions. Alternative housing must be affordable,accessible, and provide opportunities for sharing and support. 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