Eye on Norquay

Looking Out for East Vancouver

Open Letter on Duplex

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     from:  Joseph Jones
       to:  Carr, Adriane ,
            Christine Boyle ,
            Colleen Hardwick ,
            De Genova, Melissa ,
            Jean Swanson ,
            Kennedy Stewart ,
            Lisa Dominato ,
            Michael Wiebe ,
            Pete Fry ,
            Rebecca Bligh ,
            Sarah Kirby-Yung 
       cc:  dan.garrison@vancouver.ca,
            Jeanette Jones
     date:  Dec 15, 2018, 2:25 PM
  subject:  URGENT: Re Administrative Report #5 for
            Council Meeting of December 18

To:  Vancouver City Councillors
cc:  Dan Garrison, Assistant Director, Housing Policy & Regulation
cc:  Gil Kelley, General Manager, Planning, Urban Design & Sustainability

Re: Administrative Report #5 for Council Meeting of December 18: Costs of Consultation, Time Constraints and Impacts of Pursuing By-law Amendments to Remove Two-family Dwellings (Duplex) from RS Zones


We have read this report with interest. If Council decides to adopt the recommendation of staff to consider duplex as a trial housing option while Making Room proceeds, we ask that you consider making the following amendments to the suggested Council resolution (p. 9):

(a) That the proposed further discussion, field testing and evaluation over the next year include outright duplexes in all zones where they are allowed (RT-11, RM-7, RM-8, RT-5 and others if appropriate), and not focus exclusively on yet-unbuilt examples in only RS zones.

(b) That “exterior design” and “room sizes” be added to the list of specified features to be reviewed by staff (p. 9).


1.  A monitoring of outright duplex development only in RS zones over the coming one-year period seems unlikely to provide any data that would enable Council to make “a future fact-based policy decision.” Norquay’s experience, based on continuous close observation for about five years, is that the time required for demolition of an existing house and construction of a duplex is close to one year. This does not include permitting time. We therefore expect that few if any duplexes could be completed in RS zones within one year, especially considering that only nine applications have been received to date.

2.  A large amount of data that could be used to evaluate outright duplexes is already available. Duplexes built outright under regulations almost identical to those approved for RS zones have already been completed in other areas of Vancouver. Outright duplexes have been allowed on single lots in Norquay’s RT-11 and RM-7 zones since 2013, in Marpole’s RM-8 zone since 2014, and in the RT-5 zones in Grandview-Woodland and Mount Pleasant since January 2018. In Norquay alone, approximately 60 outright duplexes have been completed or are very close to completion. To our knowledge, CoV has undertaken no formal process for any evaluation of these existing duplexes. We have been conducting our own evaluation of all new development in Norquay by regularly walking every street, monitoring applications, and attending open houses.

3.  Our monitoring has identified exterior design and room size as significant problems in new Norquay outright duplex development. The existing Exterior Design Guidelines are an important first step, but they need to be refined and strengthened. Approximately 20% of outright duplexes in Norquay are eyesores. * Room sizes are often inadequate for family housing, especially in duplexes built on small lots. We have seen bedrooms as small as 8 x 7, living rooms that can only accommodate a couch, and “dining areas” that consist of two stools at a kitchen counter because there is no room for a table.

Like most Norquay residents, we did not oppose duplexes in our neighbourhood at the time of rezoning and we do not oppose them now. We support the Planning Department’s proposal to evaluate the performance of new housing forms. The absence of any reference to Norquay in either the original staff report on duplexes dated June 27, 2018 or in the current report dated December 5, 2018 is disappointing. If the City of Vancouver reviews outright duplexes, Norquay’s extensive recent experience should feature prominently in that undertaking.

Jeanette and Joseph Jones

* Examples of external design successes and failures in Norquay can be viewed at:


Written by eyeonnorquay

16 December 2018 at 12:23 pm

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