City of North Van considers small lot infill areas for added housing

City looking to eliminate minimum lot sizes in single-family and duplex zones

The City of North Vancouver is looking to eliminate minimum lot sizes in single-family and duplex zones, but wants to still maintain the look of streets in residential areas with minimum frontages.

The current lot size regulations date back to 1967. The council report cites three reasons to review the zoning bylaws: the population of the city has doubled since 1967, households are smaller, and there have been “dramatic” increases in the cost of owning a home. The proposed changes stem from the city’s Housing Action Plan.

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The new zoning proposals will allow single-family lots to be subdivided with a minimum lot frontage of 10 metres, and duplex lots with a minimum lot frontage of 7.5 metres. If passed, this bylaw would eliminate lot size requirements for all single-family and duplex lots.

Council dealt with the proposal at the June 25 meeting and passed the bylaw’s first and second reading; next it will go to public hearing.

Changes proposed include creating smaller single-family and duplex lots, allowing basements in coach houses for storage, changing setbacks “to promote outdoor living areas and enhance the streetscape.” Coach houses won’t be higher, but there will no longer be a 45-degree-angle requirement on the second floor; rather the second floor would be limited to 60 per cent of the size of the main floor.

Staff also recommended streamlining development applications for homes and duplexes to improve efficiency.

The 2016 census showed the City of North Vancouver is comprised of 47 per cent renters, and many of them live in secondary suites in low-density neighbourhoods.

As the lots become smaller, the houses built on them would be also be on a scale that suits the new lot size.

The proposed changes could yield more than 400 new lots, but staff don’t expect that many to transpire. This is because newer buildings on large lots still have a high value due to their age, some homes are close to streams and therefore cannot be subdivided, and some lots are irregular in shape. There may be restrictions on lots with heritage homes as well. The report notes that only about 10 subdivision applications are handled per year.

These changes will reduce the number of zones for single-family homes and duplexes.

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