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Is This the End for Vancouver’s ‘Single-Family’ Neighbourhoods?

By Christopher Cheung for The Tyee

With zoning reform a sexy election issue, an evolutionary leap could be coming.

Who would’ve guessed the suggestion to rezone all of Vancouver would be taken seriously in an election?

In the midst of a housing crisis, a number of advocates and political hopefuls have been calling for more supply to solve unaffordability. A major solution they have toted is densifying neighbourhoods zoned for “single-family” housing, though there are different suggestions of what forms (apartment buildings, houseplexes, townhomes, etc.) and tenures (condo, rental, non-market, etc.) of housing should be welcomed.

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The fact that zoning reform is being discussed at all — let alone at this scale — is “wild” and “profound,” a former six-term city councillor has said. Gordon Price, who was elected with the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) and held office from 1986 to 2002, told the Cambie Report civic politics podcast that zoning reform was an untouchable “third rail” issue for politicians in his day.

The supply-focused YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) movement — which has also gained momentum in other pricey cities like San Francisco and Seattle — is changing that. It’s a new voice in a political conversation traditionally dominated by homeowners out to slow or stop development in their neighbourhoods.

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