This past fall, the Vancouver city council approved new zoning regulations, specifically in Residential One-Family Zones (RS). The new rules allow for multiplexes on lots that were previously reserved for single-family homes or duplexes, providing more residents the opportunity to call these neighbourhoods home. Under these new regulations, three to six units will be permitted on residential lots, depending on their size, with a maximum height of three storeys. If the multiplexes are purpose-built rentals, they can have seven or eight units, allowing for one unit to be occupied by the registered owner of the site. The idea is to bridge the gap between single-detached homes (which are becoming more and more unaffordable for many) and large apartment buildings. It’s something they call “Missing Middle Housing.”

Since the new zoning, now named R1-1, got the green light, builders are lining up. In just the first four weeks, the city received 19 applications for multiplexes. If these projects go through, they could replace some single-family houses and create 84 new homes. More units mean more life and more vibrancy in the neighbourhood.


As part of the approved changes, the city merged nine different low-density residential zones into one to bring uniformity and facilitate the introduction of multiplexes to single-home neighbourhoods. The new rules also include “density bonus provisions,” which require builders to either pay fees to contribute to public amenities and infrastructure, provide one below-market homeownership unit, or secure all units as purpose-built rentals in perpetuity. City Council has now directed staff to explore housing options in RS zones that could accommodate up to six units on a single lot.

Critics argue while the new rules allow multiplexes, Vancouver’s policy limits the total housing floor space permitted for each project, adding only 16% to the “floor area ratio” over the previous zoning. They say this undermines the viability of many potential multiplex projects. Others say the new rules don’t go far enough to tackle the city’s housing challenges. To catch up after decades of underbuilding, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimates that B.C. needs to build 610,000 more homes by 2030 above current trends. City staff projects that under the new Vancouver rules, 150 to 200 of these multi-unit complexes will be built a year representing about a third of redevelopment in these low-density neighbourhoods, with duplexes and single-family homes making up the remaining two-thirds.



As for net-zero requirements, the city is currently accepting enquiries and applications for relaxations and exclusions under the CHBA Net Zero Home label. The applicant team must include a person who has the Qualified Net Zero Builder accreditation. Alternatively, the applicant team must include a person who has a current Certified Passive House Consultant or Certified Passive House Designer accreditation.

You may find these links helpful if you have any questions.


Section 10.33 Zero Emissions

Net Zero Instructions

Zero Emission Guideline for R1 and RT

Even though some have criticized Vancouver’s missing middle policies as not going far enough, it is still the biggest single change to the city’s zoning in decades and represents a big opportunity for local builders. At Capture Energy, we have been the Energy Advisors on several Net Zero multiplex projects and we’re eager to help you shape the neighbourhoods of the future.

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