Small House / Duplex 2013-2016

leave a comment »

Monitoring the Norquay Plan — Report No. 2 (May 2016)

RT-11 / RT-11N Zone

A separate posting of 19 photos of new Norquay dwellings taken in spring 2016 accompanies this evaluation.


This second overall review of the 2010-2013 Norquay Plan continues looking at residential areas, and focuses on the new small house/duplex housing type. See note appended below on context for brief description of the Norquay Plan and a listing of aspects yet to be reviewed by Eye on Norquay. The City of Vancouver failed to include in the Norquay Plan any mandate for formal review of the effects and consequences of the mass rezoning.

What Does the Zoning Allow?

The RT-11 (Small House/Duplex) and RT-11N zones cover 937 properties in Norquay (2015 figures from City of Vancouver). See the map at the end of this post for properties included in this zone. The RT-11N portion of the zoning lies next to arterial streets and has special noise mitigation requirements; otherwise, regulations are the same as for RT-11.

If only a single family house is built on one lot, development is outright. A laneway house is permitted, but is subject to a short conditional review. If only a duplex is built on one lot, development is outright.

A developer who wants to build several small houses, more than one duplex, or a combination of the small house and duplex housing forms in the RT-11 zone must submit a conditional (rather than outright) development application to the City of Vancouver (CoV). The developer begins by consulting informally with CoV staff. When a formal application is submitted, a sign is posted on the property and a notification letter is sent to nearby neighbours. The application is posted on CoV’s Development Applications web site so that the public has an opportunity to examine it and submit comments.

After reviewing the application and the comments that have been received, staff set conditions that the developer must meet before final approval is granted for the project. Comments from the public are important because they can influence these conditions.

The number of permitted buildings depends on the size and the location of the site involved.
(1) If a pre-1940 character house is being retained, an infill one-family or two-family dwelling may be possible.
(2) If a site is next to a park or school site, if the site is a corner site, or if the site is a double fronting site, a small one-family dwelling may be built in addition to a new or existing single family house or duplex.
(3) On larger sites, a combination of small house and duplex housing forms is possible.

Secondary suites are permitted on all sites. Lock-off units may be permitted in larger developments.

The floor space ratio (FSR) is .60 for a single family house, .75 for a site with only a duplex, and .85 for larger developments. The parking requirement is one space per unit. Parking is usually at the lane, in covered garages or (on larger sites) in a combination of garages, carports, and/or surface parking. There is no separate storage required, but it can be provided.for bicycles. Under RT-11 zoning, multiple dwellings on a single site may be strata-titled.

The 2013 regulations and guidelines that govern development in RT-11 can be found at:

What Is Being Built?

Since 2013, and as of May 2016, the City of Vancouver has posted on its web site fifteen RT-11 development applications, involving nineteen properties. Eight of these fifteen applications have been submitted by the architecture firm Fuho Design. The first three projects have been completed and are now occupied. Four others are nearing completion. Two have been started recently. Construction has not yet begun on the other six, some of which may still be awaiting approval. Units in all of these developments are strata-titled.

A small house behind a duplex generally takes the form of a laneway house containing a covered garage for two or three cars. On two sites consisting of single long lots, a second small house has been built between the duplex and the laneway house.

The applications can be categorized as follows:

       Duplex + one small house                        7
       Duplex + two small houses                       2
       Two duplexes                                    2
       Duplex + cluster of small houses *              2
       Cluster of small houses *                       1
       Retention of heritage house + 4 duplexes *      1

       [* indicates assembled sites]

The range of unit sizes is:

       Form                              Square Footage    Sq Ft Avg

       Duplexes                          1106-2064         1618
       Small houses behind a duplex       690-1560         1024 
       Small houses in cluster           1244-1556         1353

The observed asking-price ranges are:

       Duplexes                                      $759,000 - $1,225,000
       Small houses behind a duplex (single lot)     $558,000 -   $998,000
       Small houses in clusters                      $839,000 -   $899,000

Photos of seven RT-11 developments newly completed or almost completed as of May 2016 can be viewed in a separate posting, along with prices and square footages where available.


1.  The restricted locations for small houses built on standard lots (corner sites, sites that abut a school or park, or double-fronting sites) appear to work well. These locations feel much more “open” than mid-block locations do.

2.  The small house/duplex developments at Killarney Street and East 41st Avenue are well located on a fairly isolated corner. They are bordered on three sides by a school, a park, and East 41st Avenue.

3.  The palette of colours for building exteriors in several developments (dark green, cherry red, blue, yellow) is a welcome change from the standard neutral shades used in most new construction.

4.  Some of the large duplexes appear massive, especially where they are built on upward sloping sites (e.g. those on the east side of Dundee Street). The base grade on these sites is well above the street.

5.  The two sites where two small houses have been built on a single large lot behind a duplex appear very crowded. The 8-foot separation between the buildings leaves very little room for open space.


Note:  Subsequent monitoring reports are anticipated for

       RM-7 (Rowhouse/Stacked Townhouse) Zone
       Transition Zone
       Kingsway Development
       Kingsway Public Realm
       Public Benefits
       Comprehensive Analysis


In the fall of 2010, Vancouver City Council adopted the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan. The plan lays out a “roadmap forward” that is supposed to guide development in Norquay for the next 30 years.

In the spring of 2013, Vancouver City Council adopted new zoning schedules for Norquay. Most of the residential area was rezoned to RT-11 (small house/duplex) or RM-7 (rowhouse/stacked townhouse). A rezoning policy was put in place for the Transition zone (four storey apartments) immediately behind Kingsway.

Specifications for development along Kingsway are part of the 2010 Norquay Plan.

     Norquay Village Zoning Map

Council also adopted a Public Benefits Strategy and Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy for Norquay in spring 2013. This policy identifies the key amenities and services that Norquay can expect to accompany development, and suggests how they should be funded. To date, nothing has been delivered.

Development has begun. The City of Vancouver has no formal process for monitoring the implementation of the Norquay Plan. This series of postings will examine how the Norquay Plan of 2010, the subsequent new zoning schedules of 2013, and the Public Benefits Strategy are being implemented.

See also:
Duplexes 2013-2015
Monitoring the Norquay Plan — Report No. 1 (March 2015)


Written by eyeonnorquay

30 May 2016 at 3:51 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s