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In unaffordable Vancouver, we need to start thinking small

By Michael Geller for Vancouver Courier

Small is beautiful.

This was the theme of a recent conference organized by Small Housing BC (SHBC), a non-profit organization created to promote smaller homes throughout the province.

SHBC defines “small housing” as just enough space to live in. Depending on the household, it may be anything between 200 and 1,500 square feet, in a variety of different forms.

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Vancouver has been relatively progressive in allowing smaller dwellings compared to other jurisdictions. In California, accessory dwellings (ADUs) were illegal until quite recently, when a broad coalition was successful in legalizing them. Now, in some jurisdictions, they are becoming mandatory.

When Vancouverites think of small housing, we tend to imagine basement suites, laneway houses, or small highrise condos. But there are many variations: tiny houses, lock-off suites, houseplexes to name just a few.

In the early 1990s, Jack Poole and David Podmore’s VLC properties developed 600 Drake St. offering new rental suites under 350 sq.ft. When the proposal was first considered at council, then-alderman Jonathan Baker said living in these units would be like living in coffins. He was wrong.

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