Vancouver urbanists love to complain about the “missing middle” when it comes to housing in the big city.
They have condos, sure, highrises sprouting like mushrooms after the rain! And they have single family homes, vast tracts of them!
But where are the townhouses, the duplexes, the low-rise condos?
The answer, for years, has been that the “missing middle” does exist. You just had to drive east to find it. Langley, Surrey, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, this was where single-family homes sat side-by-side with rowhouses, where duplexes and fourplexes got approved, where towers were rare, but five-storey condos common.
Vancouver has chipped away at its own zoning in recent years, allowing for more mid-level density, but it has yet to make a big impact on development patterns in the region as a whole.
So it’s easy to be smug in the suburbs, about our relatively progressive approach to densification.
But we still don’t have enough variety.
In addition to a wider variety of building types and sizes, we need a wider variety of ownership forms and affordability ranges.
That means more rental apartments, in a variety of sizes and configurations, including two- and three-bedroom, suitable for housing families with kids, even a grandparent or two.
Langley, as of a recent Township council vote, will soon boast two co-housing projects. We could use more of those!
We also need co-ops, a housing format that provides long-term stability for thousands of Canadians, but which never really developed out in the suburbs. With the federal government saying it will back more of them as part of its housing strategy, now is the time to push.
Variety is the spice of life, but having variety in housing allows people to live, period.