Neighbourhood Planning and Community Support for New Multi-Family Housing Projects in Vancouver

Author/s: Patrick Santoro

Creation date: 2016

Senior supervisor: Meg Holden

Keywords: Multi-family housing; community support; smart growth; transit-oriented development; housing affordability; infill housing; NIMBY; equitable development

Geographic focus: Marpole, Vancouver, BC;  West End, Vancouver, BC; British Columbia, Canada

Research question/s: How have planners and developers mitigated concerns and increased community support for new multi-family housing projects in Vancouver? What are the themes of community support and opposition for new multi-family housing projects in Vancouver?  What strategies do planners and developers use during the community planning and development application process to increase community support and mitigate community concerns? What new strategies might planners and developers explore to increase support?


Since the 1970s, the City of Vancouver has promoted policies to advance the intensification of housing. These initiatives have generally been successful in the city core. However, with re-development opportunities in the core shrinking over the past decade, the city has introduced initiatives to densify established residential neighbourhoods outside the central core. These efforts have often been met with public resistance that has delayed or prevented new multi-family housing units from being developed. Since the development of new multi-family housing helps meet sustainability and housing affordability goals set by the city, as well as demonstrated consumer preferences, it is important to understand why these projects are opposed and how planners and developers might better address community concerns. The findings in this paper will be useful to planners and developers, as well as to other stakeholders in the fields of housing policy and transit-oriented development.


Based on interviews and analysis of two separate community plans and the development applications for four multi-family housing projects, the author concluded that affordability, building height and design, amenities, community character and parking or traffic concerns are the main issues that motivate support or opposition for new multi-family housing developments in Vancouver. The author recommends that further clarity, accountability and education regarding the delivery of amenities and new housing take place to support the timely development of both market and non-market housing.