Vancouver will now allow duplexes in the majority of neighborhoods after city councilors voted in favor of the initiative, as reported by The Canadian Press.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said that the decision is aimed towards building homes in the city for the “missing middle,” a term used to describe those who were priced out of the market due to high property prices.

Under the policy change, duplexes are now permitted on about 67,000 single family lots, providing a price option that is more likely within a person’s means than a detached home.

While Robertson acknowledged that the program is not a “silver bullet” that will give solution to Vancouver’s housing problems, he said that it addresses the needs of the residents.

“Over the past two years of consultation for the new Housing Vancouver strategy, we heard loud and clear that Vancouverites want more housing options in single family neighbourhoods,” he noted.

The policy is being already being criticized – it has been described as good, but not enough by Tom Davidoff, Associate Professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business. 

“It’s a start. But when you have land that’s worth tens of millions of dollars an acre, to really put a dent in affordability, you want to go to at least townhomes or small apartment buildings,” Davidoff said.

Addressing this concern, the mayor’s office said the new policy disallows an increase in height or density on a single-family property, although other methods to add density are being discussed.

 “Further work is underway as part of the Making Room program to bring forward options for rowhouses, townhouses, and low-rise apartments- with a priority on rental housing and co-ops in low-density neighbourhoods,” the mayor’s office stated in a disclosure.

The policy change was a result of two days of public hearings that saw a 7-4 vote, split along party lines with Robertson, five Vision Vancouver members and councillor Hector Bremner approving the motion, while three Non-Partisan Association councillors and the Green party’s Adriane Carr opposed it.

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