How Communities Can Make Housing More Affordable

Okanagan Infill
May 24, 2023

The housing shortage in many regions across Canada poses significant challenges to affordability and quality of life. In this  post, we will explore the key issues blocking an increase in housing supply and recommend potential solutions based on case studies from Vancouver and Kitchener-Waterloo. By addressing these roadblocks and adopting effective strategies, communities can work towards alleviating the housing crisis.

Case Study 1: Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, British Columbia, has long been known for its high housing costs and limited supply. However, the city has made significant strides in increasing housing options through several key initiatives:

  1. Densification and Zoning Changes: Vancouver implemented zoning changes to promote densification and increase housing supply. This included allowing the construction of secondary suites, laneway housing, and multi-family developments in previously single-family zones. These changes have resulted in a greater number of housing units without compromising the city’s character.
  2. Streamlined Development Processes: The city streamlined its development processes to reduce bureaucratic hurdles and expedite the construction of new housing projects. This involved improving coordination between various departments, implementing online permit applications, and providing clear guidelines to developers. By simplifying these processes, Vancouver encouraged increased housing construction and reduced delays.

Case Study 2: Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario

Kitchener-Waterloo, located in Ontario, faced its own housing challenges due to rapid population growth and increased demand. The following steps were instrumental in boosting housing supply in the region:

  1. Urban Growth and Development Plan: Kitchener-Waterloo developed a comprehensive urban growth and development plan that focused on creating vibrant and diverse neighborhoods. The plan involved identifying underutilized areas and encouraging their redevelopment into mixed-use, higher-density communities. By strategically planning for growth, the city was able to maximize the use of existing land and increase housing supply.
  2. Collaboration with Developers: The region actively collaborated with developers to incentivize the construction of new housing. This included offering financial incentives, fast-tracking approvals for projects that aligned with the city’s goals, and facilitating partnerships between developers and community organizations. By fostering collaboration, Kitchener-Waterloo ensured that developers had the necessary support to deliver housing projects efficiently.

These case studies highlight successful strategies employed to increase housing supply in two distinct regions of Canada. Through densification, zoning changes, streamlined development processes, urban growth planning, collaboration with developers, and infrastructure investment, these cities have made significant progress in addressing their housing shortages.

By tailoring these strategies to their specific contexts, communities across Canada and the Okanagan Valley can take steps to increase housing supply, improve affordability. With concerted efforts and innovative approaches, we can work towards creating more inclusive and sustainable housing markets throughout the country.