Vancouver councillor wants to see temporary modular housing in single-family areas

A motion to allow temporary modular housing to be built in all of Vancouver's single-family and duplex residential neighbourhoods will be put before council next week.

The proposal's author, OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle, says it would expand the land available for building much needed affordable housing for the more than 2,000 people counted among the city's homeless in 2019.

"[Single-family and duplex zones] is a type of land in the city that is actually the least expensive or some of the least expensive per square foot."

In Vancouver, modular housing is currently not permitted in RS and RT zoning parcels which are designations for areas typically reserved for single detached houses and duplexes. Temporary modular housing projects are limited to vacant and undeveloped CD-1 districts across the city.

Boyle's motion asks city staff to look into changing the zoning to allow temporary modular housing on RS and RT areas and report back to council about rezoning opportunities

Previous modular projects have prompted strong opposition from residents concerned about the proximity of affordable housing to their neighbourhoods. In 2017, the B.C. Supreme Court granted the City of Vancouver an injunction and ordered protesters to stop interfering with construction work on a project in Marpole.

Cory Correia/CBC News

Boyle acknowledges her proposal will likely be met with the same unease but notes many neighbourhoods initially resistant to temporary modular housing have since come around.

"Absolutely, on a site-by-site basis, there is nervousness and pushback from some neighbourhoods, and we've seen it die down each time and turn out to be OK." 

She adds the process for approving new modular housing projects would include a period of public consultation with residents before being approved. However, the rezoning would allow the city to bypass lengthy public hearings that delay urgently needed housing.

Coun. Boyle's motion will go before council on Tuesday.