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At one point on Sept. 18, the first day of a public hearing to determine whether duplexes should be permitted in most single-family neighbourhoods in Vancouver, Vision Coun. Andrea Reimer turned to a speaker and asked what she made of the wildly divergent views of the previous 30-plus speakers.
That was the kind of hearing it was. Sharply divided opinions pivoted between speakers voicing strong support for the duplex proposal, while urging council to take an even more ambitious approach to densifying single-family neighbourhoods, to critics arguing a “lame duck” council failed to consult properly and would be making a decision at the very end of its mandate that would negatively affect neighbourhoods and which they wouldn’t be accountable for because most aren’t running again.
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The duplex proposal is one of the city’s “quick-start” actions in its Making Room housing program approved in June. Its goal is to increase the supply of “missing middle” types of housing to create a diversity of choices that are cheaper than detached houses. In coming months, city staff will also evaluate the possibility of allowing triplexes, four-plexes, townhouses and apartments in low-density neighbourhoods. A report on options will go to council in 2019.
Current RS (single-family) zoning allows for secondary suites, laneway homes and character infill. The public hearing is focused on zoning changes that would allow duplexes, with or without small secondary suites. Duplexes would be an option for new construction only.