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Stratification allowed for single-family lots in Richmond

A home designer argued stratas are needed for 'financial feasibility.'
Some examples of how single-family lots in Richmond could be densified.

Richmond city council will allow single-family lots in Richmond to be stratified into three or four units, depending on the size of the lot.

Some lots close to transit will even allow six stratified units.

This decision follows provincial legislation requiring municipalities to change their bylaws to allow densification in single-family neighbourhoods – affecting about 25,000 properties in Richmond.

But the vote at city council was not unanimous.

In fact, Coun. Carol Day suggested partial stratification – two stratified units where three housing units are permitted and three stratified units where four are permitted – to encourage some rental units to be built.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie was in favour of Day’s motion, saying feedback from builders indicate they probably wouldn’t build more than two or three units on single-family lots.

“I worry if we go with 100 per cent strata, there’s no going back,” Brodie said.

The amendment, however, was defeated with only Couns. Day, Michael Wolfe, Laura Gillanders and the mayor voting for it.

The original recommendation from city staff was to allow only rentals on densified single-family lots with an option for developers to ask city council if they wanted to stratify.

Before the final vote, a home designer spoke in favour of stratification, saying it’s a “must for financial feasibility.”

In fact, Brad Dore said 16 out of 17 of his current clients will build single-family homes if stratification isn’t allowed.

“From a designer’s perspective, without stratification, single-title landowners… are going to want to build large single-family homes with minimum rental only as required by the bylaws,” Dore said.

He noted that developers of small-scale strata units want high-quality homes as they are competing with condos and townhomes, whereas the same standards aren’t demanded of rental units.

“Once it’s rental, it’s like, it doesn’t matter,” Dore told city council. “It just doesn’t create the same quality when it’s a rental design versus a stratification.”

Provincial legislation requires residential lots that are 3,012 square feet in size (about 280 square metres) must be permitted to have at least three units and residential lots that are larger than 3,012 square feet will be permitted to have four units.

Residential lots that are larger than 3,024 square feet and within 400 metres of a bus stop with frequent transit service must be permitted to have six housing units.

Couns. Gillanders, Wolfe and Day voted against the bylaw.

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