Making Home for Vancouverites: An Incremental Approach to Vancouver’s Missing Middle and Affordability Challenge


The current housing landscape in Vancouver is characterized by exorbitant housing costs and low rental vacancies, posing great challenges to quality of life and urban vitality. This reality is formed by the urban manifestation of the so-called livable city implemented in the post-industrial era to establish Vancouver as a global metropolitan. The strategy was effective in marketing the city to the world, but inadvertently, it also sowed the seed for the manifestation of an entrenched and deeply unaffordable housing climate witnessed today.

One of the underlying conditions for the housing challenge in the city is the lack of adequate supply. Current policies have limited housing stock to two dominant typologies - detached single family homes and high-rise condominiums. The existing zoning regulation in Vancouver continues to restrict a sizable portion of underused residential land to the development of low density detached housing schemes. As a result, the city’s housing crisis continues to deepen and in breath and scale.

The solution to the persistent challenge of unaffordability calls for a shift towards broad scale up-zoning of low-density residential neighbourhoods in the city. This thesis focuses on a proposal to incrementally densify Vancouver’s yellow belt, to increase housing stock diversity and ultimately address issues of affordability. The design portion of this thesis will consist of a design synthesis followed by three proposals developed upon existing housing typologies to contextualize the potential of small lot interventions. The objective of this thesis is not to present an all encompassing solution to the city’s complex housing problem; but rather to facilitate a broader discussion on how to up-zone Vancouver’s yellow belt and create greater housing affordability for Vancouverites.

The examining committee is as follows:

Supervisor: Val Rynnimeri
Committee member: Marie-Paule MacDonald
Internal-external reader: Samantha Eby
External: Shelley Craig

The defence examination will take place:
Thursday, January 11, 2024, 4:00 p.m.
In person, in the Ward room.
A copy of the thesis is available for perusal in ARC 2106A.