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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Secondary suites : housing resource or problem, the Vancouver case Cheng, Lai-Sum Lisa


Secondary suites in single family houses have remained an illegal but prevalent form of housing in Vancouver since 19 56 despite a number of policies implemented to deal with this issue. In the absence of a policy framework it has been unclear what the impact of these policies have been or how they should be evaluated. This study presents an analytical framework through which the issue can be better understood before policy options are explored and analyzed. The framework consists of, firstly, an analysis of the role of secondary suites in the Vancouver housing scene; secondly, an assessment of the secondary suite "problem" in Vancouver and how it has been dealt with; thirdly, an analysis of incidence of effects of the secondary suite arrangement; and, finally, a policy analysis model based on the preceding findings. The sources of information include published reports and statistics, classified advertisements that are tabulated, interviews with informants who have been involved in dealing with the secondary suite issue as well as informal interviews with about 50 people directly involved in a secondary suite arrangement. Based on the understanding of the secondary suite issue, two basic policy orientations are identified. The first one is to reduce the number of secondary suites in the City while the second one is to change the suites into an acceptable form of housing. The alternative means to implement these policies are identified and the correlation between these means, the functions they can serve and the effect they have on the City's housing situation and the secondary suite issue are outlined. It is hoped that the findings will be useful to planners in formulating more effective policies and to decision-makers in deciding on the most appropriate solution for the City's secondary suite issue.

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