UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Retrofitting Vancouver's most sacred land use: the intensification of ground-oriented housing in single-family neighbourhoods Patrick, Lyndon Lee


The Metropolitan Vancouver Region is expected to have a population of over 3.3 million within the next 25 years. As a designated growth concentration area, the City of Vancouver is expected to absorb 160,000 people by 2021. While existing plans will allow for future high density developments, 70% of the City's residential areas remain zoned explicitly for single-family use. The intensification of these single-family neighbourhoods is viewed as a way of using the existing housing stock and the existing residential land more efficiently. The intensification techniques that are appropriate for single-family neighbourhoods include: conversion, infill and redevelopment. Planners think that intensification efforts will not only alleviate some of the detrimental impacts of sprawl, but will also provide a more diversified housing stock that will be more appropriate for the needs of an increasingly complex society. Unfortunately, some existing residents have been extremely vocal in opposition to any intensification efforts in their neighbourhoods. The residents claim that any intensification will disrupt the character of their existing single-family neighbourhoods. While the arguments for retaining exclusive single-family neighbourhoods are specious at best, the NIMBY mentality of residents has often proved to be an effective form of opposition to intensification efforts. An approach for overcoming the NIMBY syndrome is a successful program of community outreach. Community outreach attempts to minimize community opposition and to rally support for the development within the community. Attention is focused on the residents who have not already become opponents of the development. A successful community outreach program will limit residents' factual misunderstandings and their exaggerated fears about the project's potential impacts. Negotiations should be undertaken with residents who are willing to compromise; residents who refuse to talk cooperatively should not be brought into the problem-solving process. Future plans for intensification must establish a sense of certainty in the way a neighbourhood will change. The exaggerated sense of fear that residents have about the potential changes in their neighbourhood is the biggest obstacle to overcome if the Metropolitan Vancouver Region is to successfully implement an intensification program into existing single-family neighbourhoods.

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