How Vancouver Can Adapt to a Growing Population

Looking at the city, it’s easy to imagine how Vancouver could run out of room. By 2036, experts anticipate that our regional population will reach nearly four million and residential densities will increase by almost 40%.

When you consider numbers like these, it’s clear that our attitudes towards housing are going to have to change to accommodate growing demand. In order for our city and our region to thrive, increasing the supply of homes is a must. But increasing the number of Vancouver condos isn’t the only way to adapt to our growing population. For us to meet the housing demands of our population, we’ll need to change our way of thinking. Here’s how the Vancouver region and its residents can adapt.

Downsize to multi-unit dwellings

The Canadian dream might have once included a big house and white picket fence, but once the kids are out on their own, do you really need all that space?

Downsizing to an apartment or condo is an effective way for Vancouver to properly adjust to its growing population. There will be almost double the number of seniors in 2036 who no longer have the household size — or in many cases, the physical ability — to justify living in a single family home. Making the move to a multi-unit building will help free up necessary space. More than 20% of all Vancouverites aged 70+ already live in apartments, and you can expect to see this number rise over the course of the next 20 years. What Vancouverites need is a new perspective on how much space each couple, single or family needs. A shift away from detached homes and towards multi-unit buildings can help create more housing within a limited amount of urban space.

Rezone key areas of the city

With only so much urban space to develop, we’ll need to rethink existing areas of the city.

The False Creek Flats area is already undergoing massive change — expect to see 3000+ new homes in the near future — but other areas will need to undergo similar rezoning. For instance: the removal of Vancouver’s Georgia viaducts will provide a massive amount of space for our growing population. As city regulations allow for more development in central areas of the city, more of our population can be accommodated, without having to move to other municipalities.

Build more apartment buildings

In 2016, the construction of roughly 20,000 units (ground-oriented and apartments) was completed across Metro Vancouver, and 27,826 new units were started.

The region is expected to have constructed nearly 440,000 new dwelling units by 2036, and it is estimated that almost 40% of these will be apartments. As more people between the ages of 65 and 85 move into apartments, these units can help meet the demand among senior citizens for more functional (and space-effective) homes.

Consider co-living spaces


807 1205 Howe Street

Millennials have reimagined the way we work, the way we date, and now, the way we live. Co-living spaces are an interesting new concept that will increase the amount of single living spaces while providing a more affordable place to live.

The catch is that while residents will rent their own room — a 300-square-foot micro unit equipped with tiny kitchen, bathroom and bedroom — shared common areas will exist for everyone. This allows developers to construct more living spaces per square foot. Although still in its infancy, this type of building could help Vancouver to keep up with a growing population of young and old adults.

We often consider Vancouver’s growing population a real estate problem, but with intelligent municipal and regional planning and new perspectives on home occupancy, we can continue to be both a world-class region and a home to all demographics.

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Inline: Shutterstock / romakoma, Shutterstock / Josef Hanus, Shutterstock / Alex533, Rennie

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