78% of Vancouver residents calling for more housing options and density: survey

Amidst a housing affordability crisis, the vast majority of respondents in an open public survey conducted by the City of Vancouver have unsurprisingly expressed a need for more housing choices in all neighbourhoods.

The survey in Fall 2021 was part of the Vancouver Plan’s phase three public consultation on the emerging directions and concepts for determining the future citywide plan.

The municipal government says 78% of respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed that there should be a range of new housing options in all neighbourhoods, especially within areas that currently have low density.

As well, over 80% support low-rise apartments up to six storeys, multiplexes, and townhouses in areas that are currently mostly dedicated to single-detached dwellings. Nearly half (48%) also said mid-rise buildings up to 12 storeys are acceptable.

More than three quarters (77%) supported rental housing along smaller, local roads within neighbourhoods, and 68% agreed that all neighbourhoods should have more housing options by increasing allowable heights and density for those who make under $80,000 annually.

When it comes to strategically increasing housing by densifying areas near public transit services, called transit-oriented development, 57% of respondents prefer to “spread out density” through six to 12-storey buildings further away from rapid transit areas. Just over one-third of respondents (36%) support buildings taller than 12 storeys near rapid transit stations.

The survey also found overwhelming support (82%) for having more employment opportunities and retail near residential areas to help reduce the reliance on vehicles. The same proportion (82%) agreed with the idea that the city should have more places for people to work.

But for new residential density near retail districts, 58% of respondents would like to see lower-rise buildings between three and six storeys retained along local shopping streets to protect the area’s existing character and businesses.

There were also high levels of support for the city to prioritize public transit and active transportation in neighbourhoods.

When it comes to protecting and intensifying employment uses of industrial lands and generally excluding residential development in these areas, 50% of respondents agreed with this direction, with another 25% of respondents indicating they were neutral or did not know, while another 25% disagreed.

Nearly four-in-five respondents (79%) noted they agreed that the city should require sustainable construction methods in new buildings and renovation of older buildings.

The city’s month-long open public survey attracted 3,738 respondents. Feedback collected from the public consultation will be used to finalize the draft Vancouver Plan in April 2022, which will then go through one final round of public consultation before it is sent to Vancouver City Council in June 2022 for review and approval.

Like an official community plan (OCP) process, the Vancouver Plan will determine the city’s land use plans to accommodate growth and changing needs over the coming decades, but it also considers a wide range of other factors beyond OCP processes typically engaged by cities. Although the Vancouver Plan is a citywide plan, it will not result in the overhaul of relatively recent neighbourhood plans, including the Grandview-Woodland, West End, Cambie Corridor, Marpole plans, and the future Broadway Plan.