By Rohana Rezel
The Vancouver City Council approved a plan to allow duplexes in all Vancouver neighbourhoods in the dying days of Vision Vancouver’s term in office. Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision councillors sold the Making Room1 proposal as a plan to improve affordability by increasing density. I spoke against the plan at a public hearing and predicted that it will do the opposite by making housing more expensive.
I looked at the real estate data for half-duplexes that were sold this year and compared their prices with the prices of the single detached homes they replaced. Out of the 22 sales, 16 half-duplexes, or 73%, sold for more than what the detached home cost.
In other words, in nearly three in four cases, duplex buyers are getting half the land area a single detached house would have provided them while paying more than what the detached house would’ve cost them. Even in the few cases where duplexes are cheaper than the detached they replaced, they’re cheaper by 10% or less.
|Address||Detached Price||1/2 Duplex Price||1/2 Duplex price as % of SFH Price|
|1225 PARK DRIVE||$1,718,000||$1,680,000||98|
|531 E 17TH AVENUE||$1,220,000||$1,359,000||111|
|3045 E 59TH AVENUE||$1,795,000||$1,618,100||90|
|2941 W 15TH AVENUE||$1,850,000||$2,184,000||118|
|4189 MILLER STREET||$1,130,100||$885,714||78|
|3340 E 24TH AVENUE||$1,100,000||$1,305,000||119|
|2150 VENABLES STREET||$1,650,000||$1,530,000||93|
|2122 VENABLES STREET||$1,470,000||$1,530,000||104|
|3360 PARKER STREET||$830,000||$995,000||120|
|2948 E 25TH AVENUE||$1,340,000||$1,500,000||112|
|3203 E 29TH AVENUE||$1,160,000||$1,200,000||103|
|765 E 39TH AVENUE||$1,160,000||$1,514,000||131|
|1356 E 11TH AVENUE||$1,315,000||$1,468,000||112|
|4620 GOTHARD STREET||$1,100,000||$1,170,000||106|
|5865 BATTISON STREET||$1,030,000||$1,160,000||113|
|2056 KITCHENER STREET||$1,330,000||$1,495,000||112|
|2842 E 43RD AVENUE||$1,249,000||$1,447,620||116|
|6559 INVERNESS STREET||$1,255,000||$1,125,710||90|
|250 E 54TH AVENUE||$1,165,000||$1,148,570||99|
|2135 E 2ND AVENUE||$1,330,000||$1,460,000||110|
|2215 E 52ND AVENUE||$1,270,000||$1,299,000||102|
|3002 GRAVELEY STREET||$1,100,000||$1,220,000||111|
Vancouver’s YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) movement strongly supported the Making Room proposal. Vancouver’s leading YIMBY group Abundant Housing Vancouver even ran a letter writing campaign2 in support and many of the groups members and adjacent spoke in favour of the motion at the council3.
While opponents to the proposal representing diverse backgrounds and from all walks of life vastly outnumbered supporters, the Vision-dominated council jammed the motion through ignoring popular opposition.
The councillors who were elected at the municipal elections held in October 2018 allowed the duplex option to remain in place on a trial basis for a year and asked City of Vancouver staff to come back and report on the success, or otherwise, of the plan.
“The duplex option provides a lower-cost home ownership opportunity in low density neighbourhoods and provides more total housing units than one-family dwellings within the same permitted floor area,” the staff reported in January 20204. “ Further, the duplex option is a small but important step towards addressing the climate emergency, providing a more sustainable, lower emission housing choice in low density neighbourhoods.”
The data, however, contradict City of Vancouver staff’s conclusion that the duplexes provide a “lower-cost home ownership opportunity”.
An expert panel commissioned by the Government of British Columbia confirmed what many of us housing advocates have been saying for a long time: transnational criminals use Vancouver’s real estate market to launder money5. As I correctly predicted in 2018, in a market awash with dirty money, increasing density will do nothing to improve affordability. In fact, as the data show, increasing density without addressing toxic demand only leads to further erosion of affordability.
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