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RELEASE: OneCity will end the Vancouver apartment ban

Housing platform to bring more affordable rental housing and corner stores to every neighbourhood in Vancouver, stack the deck for social housing, and put land lift to work for people.


  • Policy to allow new developments of up to six floors, as well as at-grade retail, everywhere in Vancouver, ending neighbourhood exclusivity, increasing affordability and creating healthier neighbourhoods where everyone can meet their needs
  • Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency to be turned into public housing builder
  • Non-profit and cooperative developments to be permitted additional height, improving viability and scaling up affordable housing construction
  • Increase in land value to be captured by the city and reinvested in affordable housing and neighbourhood amenities

VANCOUVER (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories) - OneCity Vancouver today announced its commitment to end Vancouver’s apartment ban, ending a longstanding policy where apartment buildings are prohibited in much of Vancouver. This will allow more housing options - and more affordable housing - everywhere in the city.

The policy is the first plank in OneCity’s housing platform, which can be viewed on its new housing website, You belong in Vancouver

“I couldn’t be more excited to introduce the first part of our platform,” says OneCity Council candidate Matthew Norris. “Vancouver’s housing shortage has reached a breaking point, pricing workers, students and youth out of our city. This must end - and we’re going to take the steps to make that happen.”

For decades, the Vancouver status quo has seen large towers built on main streets - and very little housing added within neighbourhoods. This has created an unequal city. By allowing low-rise apartment buildings everywhere, OneCity will build a healthy, vibrant Vancouver where everyone belongs - less tall and sprawl, more communities for all.

Under the proposed policy, purpose-built rental apartment buildings of up to six storeys and at-grade retail would be allowed across the City of Vancouver. This plan would empower renters to live everywhere in the city — especially in expensive and exclusive neighbourhoods with declining populations like Shaughnessy, where dwindling resident counts are leading to less sustainable public services.

Four-storey strata developments would be permitted everywhere, under the same policy, with land lift captured and re-invested in affordable housing and neighbourhood amenities. Additionally, city development rules would be changed to encourage the development of 2- and 3-bedroom units - allowing sufficient space to allow families to grow in place.

To protect incumbent renters, tenants in existing housing would be protected through a right of return to a comparable unit at the same rate prior to redevelopment - and the strengthened tenant protections found in the Broadway Plan would be expanded across the city.

“Housing is one of the social determinants of health, and one of the ways we can build a healthier and stronger city is by making sure everyone is housed with dignity,” says OneCity Council candidate Ian Cromwell. “Creating more housing is essential, and we can do it in a way that closes health inequities - building housing for families on quiet residential streets. Creating more social and supportive housing, and putting more affordable housing everywhere in Vancouver is the path to a healthier and fairer city for everyone. Moreover, by creating a diversity of housing for a diverse city with diverse family types, we can help create and strengthen the social bonds that create strong and integrated communities.”

Market rental, on its own, will not deliver affordable housing in Vancouver. That’s why OneCity’s housing plan has a specific focus on non-profit housing. To deliver greater affordability, OneCity would transform the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency into a proper public housing builder. It would also ask the province to give the agency the right of first refusal on all land that comes on to the market, to either be developed directly by the City or in partnership with organizations like community land trusts, First Nations land trusts, BC Housing, or other non-profit and cooperative developers.

City staff would also be allowed greater flexibility when it comes to approving non-profit, cooperative and other affordable housing developments. Further, reflecting their social purpose and the dire need for affordable housing in Vancouver, these developments would be allowed greater leeway when it comes to height and other development restrictions. This would improve those buildings’ viability, increase the opportunity to access senior government funding, and allow Vancouver to build significantly more housing outside the market.

These clear rules will allow the municipal permitting and rezoning processes to be streamlined significantly. All housing - market and nonmarket - that meets these requirements will have its final approval delegated to staff, with no extra steps or hearings required. This will end the political micromanagement of housing in Vancouver, transforming a process that has contributed significantly to our rental housing crisis, and has far too often put the human rights of unhoused and underhoused people on trial.

“Making Vancouver liveable means making sure working people can afford to live here,” said OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle. “If we stay on the road we’re on, Vancouver will become a gated community for the rich, with working people priced out of the city and forced into long commutes. We cannot and will not let that happen. That’s why we’re stacking the deck for social, co-op and non-market housing. And we make no apologies for it.”

To the extent possible, the increase in land value associated with development potential - the so-called “land lift” - will be captured by the City through existing value capture tools. This captured land value would be used to provide more housing options and invest in affordable housing, as well as supportive infrastructure and amenities for new and existing neighbours. 

With more and more affordable housing options in every part of the city, families would no longer be separated by the need to find affordable housing in other cities - giving younger parents easier access to grandparents, families and other supports, and allowing children to remain in all parts of the city.

“When families can grow together, all Vancouverites benefit,” said OneCity Council candidate Iona Bonamis. “More housing options in all neighbourhoods in the city will reverse the long-term population decline seen on the west side. We can bring children back to these neighbourhoods and prevent school closures. Having a greater diversity of housing stock everywhere also enables seniors to age in place and remain in close proximity to the rest of their family members.”

A June 2022 report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates that, to restore affordability, over 940,000 new housing units will have to be built in B.C. by 2030. Vancouver, with its easy access to public transit, active transport infrastructure, and concentration of jobs, will need to be home to its share.

OneCity will release further planks in its housing platform as Election Day approaches. Election Day is Saturday, October 15, 2022.

What they’re saying about OneCity’s housing platform:

“As someone who works on developing non-profit, below market housing, I see first-hand the many challenges and risks to adding more much-needed affordability in Vancouver. Even with Federal and Provincial support,  municipal processes, requirements, and policies often present insurmountable challenges. 

That is why I am excited by OneCity's housing platform and its comprehensive approach to our complex housing crisis. The city government has a huge impact on housing affordability - and I'm pleased to see that OneCity is taking action to build a city for everyone.”

Helen Lui, nonprofit housing developer

"Research tells us that people who live in stable, affordable housing in walkable neighbourhoods are happier and healthier. And that’s exactly what OneCity’s housing policy will create: healthier, more inclusive communities across the entire city. Not only that, but increasing density near green spaces and amenities will get more of us out of cars and onto public transit, bikes and sidewalks, reducing carbon and air pollution—a win-win for us and the planet."

Dr. Melissa Lem, Vancouver family physician and climate advocate

"I'm excited to see OneCity proposing exactly the type of housing policy that we need: city-wide, sustainable, equitable, and immediate.  I've spent years as a designer and builder of infill housing and passive houses pushing the envelope with green buildings, but the true future of green buildings can only be unlocked by fixing our zoning bylaws. We need to allow low-carbon, accessible, multifamily housing in every neighbourhood across the city, and OneCity has consistently championed that cause."

Bryn Davidson, co-founder, Lanefab Design/Build


OneCity Vancouver communications committee

[email protected]

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