Vancouver approved only 42 sites for additional density in 2015, but generated $103 million in benefits

Marine Gateway - transit-oriented density in Vancouver

Marine Gateway: less than three percent of development occurs through rezonings.

Additional density was approved in only 42 developments in Vancouver in 2015, says a report to today’s city council meeting, representing only 2.6 percent of overall building permits.

Those density increases generated $103 million in community benefits, more than half of it for affordable housing.

Despite the significant consultation, time and energy devoted to rezonings, a full 97 percent of new city development occurs under existing zoning. An update on last year’s rezonings concludes that two-thirds of the total public benefits came in just five large rezoning approvals generating $62 million.

Does the offer of community amenity contributions drive up housing costs? On the contrary, the report finds, there is no impact on market pricing and the benefits generated help produce more affordable housing.

The report may not reassure citizens who are convinced that “spot rezonings” are the only activity at City Hall, but perhaps a second message will hit home: with a large share of community amenity contributions coming “in kind,” in the form of heritage protection, housing affordability or public art, the amount of money available for “amenities” is not infinite, by any means.