City Council approved rezoning policies for two neighbourhood—Norquay Village and Area Adjacent to Little Mountain—that would allow duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, row houses and low-rise apartments in areas previously zoned as single family.
The policy was intended to diversify housing types, scale and density in transitional zones between single-family neighbourhoods and high-density residential towers. The strategy has been used in other neighbourhoods in subsequent years.
1. Area Adjacent to Little Mountain
City Council on February 13, 2013 approved the Adjacent Area Rezoning Policy (pdf) for an area to the northeast of the Little Mountain redevelopment project. The rezoning policy applied to 1½-city blocks (four acres) in the Riley Park neighbourhood on the west side of Main Street, south of 33rd Avenue.
The rezoning policy created a buffer zone between a single-family residential neighbourhood bordered by mixed-used buildings north of 33rd Avenue and the higher density Little Mountain development, with residential buildings up to 14 storeys.
The neighbourhood adjacent to Little mountain at that time consisted of 33 single-family houses, six multi-family apartments, three duplexes and one commercial mixed-use building.
The rezoning policy provided for townhouses, row housing and residential buildings up to six storeys.
The first re-zonings under the new policy received City Council approval in November 2015. A six-story residential building and two five-storey residential buildings, providing 127 residential units, were approved on land previously zoned for single-family lots.
The policy was rooted in 2005, when a vision statement of the Riley Park South Cambie Community called for Council to consider zoning changes to the area adjacent to Little Mountain when considering redevelopment of the Little Mountain site.
Little Mountain had been Vancouver’s first public housing project, built in the mid-1950s. Around 700 people lived in 224 residential units on the site.
The federal government transferred ownership of Little Mountain to the provincial government in 2007. The province subsequently tore down the housing in 2009, despite vigorous local protest, and in 2013 sold the land to Holborn Properties for redevelopment.
The Little Mountain planning program was initiated in 2009; consideration of the adjacent area proceeded concurrently. Council approved a policy statement for Little Mountain in June 2012 after two years of consultation with the community and other interested parties. Four months later, the city released a draft rezoning policy for the area adjacent to Little Mountain.
However city staff at that time did not support the Riley Park South Cambie Community Vision. The community vision statement called for infill housing, duplexes and cottages but specifically prohibited fourplexes, row houses and apartments higher than three storeys. Council on Feb. 13, 2013 endorsed staff recommendations for row housing and apartments up to six- storeys. (The policy also addresses building forms, heights and densities, housing mix, public benefits, transportation and sustainability.)
City Council approved the rezoning of the Little Mountain site three years later, in 2016. Development of the site is to add approximately 1,300 units of market housing and 282 units of social housing in 14 residential buildings. The site will also have three mixed-used buildings.
Former Little Mountain residents were to be given the option of returning to the social housing once it w built. However the delay of more than decade in development approval has made that commitment meaningless.
Phase one of the Little Mountain redevelopment includes the construction of 164 units of permanent social housing, and the development of market housing and commercial retail space. Construction was anticipated to begin in late 2018.
Temporary modular housing to accommodate homeless people was placed on a portion of the site in the summer of 2018.
2. Norquay Village’s New Zoning Districts and Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy
On March 12, 2013, City Council adopted two changes to single-family zoning in the residential streets adjacent to Kingsway.
In May 15, 2013, City Council created new zoning districts (RT11 and RM7) that permitted duplexes, triplexes, town houses and row housing on streets zoned for single-family homes.
The new zoning districts were intended to fill a gap in the City’s zoning options for lower- density, ground-oriented multi-family housing, with the potential for future use in other suitable areas of the city, subject to further planning and community consultation in those areas.
In a second initiative, City Council on May 16, 2013 approved an apartment transition area rezoning policy for a buffer between the new zoning districts and Kingsway, which was zoned for buildings up to 16 storeys. The new district permitted townhouses, row housing and residential buildings up to four storeys.
City staff said the primary objectives of the transition area rezoning policies were to facilitate a building form that created a careful transition from the greater heights and densities on Kingsway to the lower density residential areas behind, by enabling medium density residential development in the area generally bordering Kingsway. The policies were to ensure that this transition area develops predominantly with apartment buildings over time, contributing to the overall diversity of housing forms in Norquay Village.
However, the transition area rezoning policy did not work out as expected. Three years later, in January 2016, City Council revamped the policy in order to streamline the development process.
The changes in zoning policy stem from proposals in the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan, approved in November 2010. The plan was intended, among other things, to introduce new housing choices.
RT- 11 zoning permits duplexes and small houses on single-family lots while continuing to permit single-family homes, secondary suites and laneway houses.
RM-7 zoning, which comprises 29% of the land area in Norquay Village, encourages land assembly to build row housing and stacked townhouses (triplexes) on two or three lots but continues to permit single-family homes.
The RM-9A/9AN district covers the transition area where low-rise apartments are expected to replace all single-family homes.
Population of Norquay Village at that time (according to the 2011 census) was approximately 10,500 in 3,600 housing units. With the new plan, an estimated 15,500 people could live in 7,000 housing units by 2041.
Area Adjacent to Little Mountain
City of Vancouver. Little Mountain Adjacent Area Open House Information Boards. Retrieved Sep. 4, 2018.
City of Vancouver, Report to Planning Committee. Little Mountain Adjacent Area Rezoning Policy. February 13, 2013. Retrieved Sept. 4, 2018.
City of Vancouver. Little Mountain Adjacent Area Rezoning Policy. January 2013. Retrieved Sept. 4, 2018.
City of Vancouver Rezoning. 126-168 East 35th Ave. Council enact bylaw June 23, 2015. Retrieved Sept. 4, 2018..
City of Vancouver Rezoning. 5037-5087 Main Street. Council enact bylaw July 21, 2015. Retrieved Sept. 4, 2018.
City of Vancouver Rezoning. 5030-5080 Quebec Street. Council enact bylaw July 7, 2015. Retrieved Sept. 4, 2018..
City of Vancouver. Little Mountain site planning program. Retrieved Sept. 4, 2018..
City of Vancouver. Rezoning approval of Little Mountain site. Retrieved Sept. 4, 2018.
Jang, Brent, The Globe and Mail. Norquay rezoning a glimpse of the future. Feb. 5, 2013. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2018.
City of Vancouver. Report to City Council. New Zoning District Schedules. March 12, 2013. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2018.
City of Vancouver. Apartment Transition Zone Rezoning Policy. January 2013. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2018.
City of Vancouver. Norquay Village Open House Information Displays. September 2015. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2018.
City of Vancouver. Report to Council. Amendments to Norquay’s Apartment Transition Area. Dec. 15, 2015. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2018.
City of Vancouver. Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Progress Update. February 2017. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2018.
City of Vancouver. Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2018.
Prepared by: Robert Matas, Vancouver City Planning Commission
Last Revised: Monday, September 10, 2018