Councillor Fry asking city to modernize by-laws and zoning policies to support tiny homes and shelters

Published Oct 05, 2020 3:40 PM

VANCOUVER, B.C. – On Tuesday October 6, 2020, City Councillor Pete Fry will introduce a motion aimed at modernizing Vancouver’s building bylaws and zoning policies in order to allow for tiny homes and shelters. As it stands, neither Vancouver’s building nor zoning by-laws support the building and permitting of tiny homes or shelters.

Fry’s motion is set to be debated just days after the release of the October 2, 2020, Staff Memorandum: Response to Council Motion: Emergency COVID-19 Relief for Unsheltered Vancouver Residents, which lends support to more permanent investments in housing.

“We really need all options on the table at this point,” said Fry.

“When it comes to housing there’s a limit to what we can fund or actually build as a city, but changing our regulations to allow for tiny home and shelter options is something the city can and should do.”

Fry’s motion asks staff to report back on possible bylaw changes that would permit mobile, fixed, and temporary modular tiny homes and shelters, including options for infill and secondary units; and options for temporary and semi-permanent tiny homes in R-, C-, and I- zones.

“There are many types of tiny homes out there: some can be erected in a matter of days and cost under $20,000 per home, there are options on wheels that can be moved to different locations, and there are permanent options that can be used for building communities on city land or for adding density to single family lots.

“Tiny homes have been used as a tool used to combat homelessness and provide workforce housing in other jurisdictions, but they could also add permanent affordable housing options all across our city, including on single family lots, and at a fraction of the cost of traditional options such as building laneway homes or completely redeveloping properties."

Fry’s motion notes a number of cities that have modernized their zoning policies and bylaws to allow for tiny homes and shelters. 

“Frankly, Vancouver is behind other cities on this, but given our land scarcity and low vacancy rates - this is someplace we could really lead and innovate. People typically look to the States for examples of where these solutions are being tried out, but what many don’t realize is that there have been significant strides made right here in Canada: Ontario, Calgary and Edmonton have all changed bylaws and codes to enable tiny housing.

“The city doesn’t have the tools or the funding to solve the housing crisis, for that we need our partners in higher levels of government. But we do have the power to change our bylaws to support the solutions that tiny houses can offer, while still maintaining rigorous and practical standards for safety, livability, and sustainability. I’d like to see all options on the table.

“There are plenty of successful examples across North America where cities have built or enabled tiny house villages to mitigate homelessness, provided intergenerational infill housing, workforce housing, and even tourism solutions.

“I believe that as a city, we have the ability and the opportunity to think big, and think tiny, with innovative and responsive solutions.”


More Information:

Motion: A Closer Look at Tiny Homes and Shelters
Oct 2, 2020, Staff Memorandum: Response to Council Motion: Emergency COVID-19 Relief for Unsheltered Vancouver Residents