Buyers and owners of pre-1940 character homes in the City of Vancouver may soon be able to build infill housing or suites in their homes and sell them under a strata agreement.

The city is proposing these incentive as a way to save the 12,000 pre-1940 homes with character merit.

Vancouver defines a character home as one that was built before 1940, meets established criteria and isn’t listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register.

City staff presented options for incentives to Vancouver council on July 25, 2017.

Incentives include allowing owners in single-family (RS) zones to densify by allowing:

  • increased floor area;
  • multiple suites in a home;
  • infill cottages; and
  • Strata-titling.

Incentives have the potential to improve housing affordability across the city by increasing rental and home ownership choices.

The idea for incentives came about the city consulted with residents and stakeholders and listened to the concerns of neighbourhoods and individuals, including REALTORS® who made presentations and submitted comments.

Consultations are part of the city’s character home zoning review, which is a component of the city’s Heritage Action Plan.

City staff are drafting a bylaw incorporating incentives which will go to a public hearing in September or October.

Why the need for incentives?
Property owners in low-density neighbourhoods including Dunbar, Kerrisdale, and Arbutus Ridge aren’t allowed to build coach houses, infill, and other stratified housing, although rental laneway homes are permitted.

In these neighbourhoods, the population of children and families declined from 2011 to 2016 according to census data.

While the proposed incentives will apply to all RS zoning districts, the city is hoping new incentives will help save character homes and bring newcomers into these low-density neighbourhoods.

Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland
The city is also proposing new incentives for Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland (RT zones) to permit property owners to increase rental and owned housing through:

  • laneway homes (rentals);
  • allowing the number of homes on a 33’ lot to increase to three from two;
  • introducing a new detached form of duplex allowing for two separate houses on a lot, with a larger house at the front and a smaller house on the lane; and
  • permitting large lots to build a new fourplex.

Interim procedure will continue to limit redevelopment on 5,300 properties
An interim procedure has been in place in discretionary zones (RS-3/3A and RS-5) since June 2014.

This interim procedure will continue for one additional year and limits redevelopment of a demolished character home to the outright floor area allowed by current zoning.

The interim procedure applies to Second and Third Shaughnessy (south of King Edward Avenue between Oak Street and Arbutus Street); and Arbutus, Dunbar, and Kerrisdale.

First Shaughnessy
First Shaughnessy neighbourhood homes are protected under specific policies and guidelines under the First Shaughnessy Heritage Conservation Area Official Development Plan.

Because they’re covered by the neighbourhood conservation plan, these homes aren’t included in the character home review.

Learn about the Character homes zoning review – single family homes and Character Homes Zoning Review Background.

If you have questions, contact Andrew Peck, vice-president and general manager, Royal pacific Realty Group at

Sources: REBGV; City of Vancouver