Developing Truly Complete Communities, Discussion Paper

The goal of this discussion paper is to propose ideas for Metro 2050 that would foster neighbourhood-based social connectedness among residents of multi-unit housing, especially those who rent.

Developing Truly Complete Communities: Social equity, social connectedness and multi-unit housing in an age of public health and climate crises.

This discussion paper and set of policy recommendations was created by Hey Neighbour Collective to inform Metro Vancouver’s review of Metro 2040 – our current regional growth strategy – and the drafting of Metro 2050.

Excerpt from executive summary

The deepening affordable housing crisis in Metro Vancouver is resulting in single-detached homes—and home ownership of any sort—being increasingly inaccessible to the majority of residents. We have seen the proportion of single-detached homes in the region decrease from 50% to 29% of dwellings over the last 25 years. About 42% of the population currently live in multi-unit housing. 

Long-term or permanent renting is increasingly the only option for a substantial segment of this region’s residents and workforce—and, in particular, for lower-income residents. Over a third of Metro Vancouver residents are renters; within Vancouver this is over 50%. Significantly more than half of renter householders in the greater Vancouver area spend more than 30% of their income on housing. 

An increase in the proportion of people living in dense communities and multi-unit housing aligns with the Metro 2040 goal to “create a compact urban area” that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, protects agricultural land, and makes transportation alternatives possible. However, the strategy of concentrating denser, more affordable housing typologies within urban centres and on arterials needs to be closely examined for its impacts on social equity and social connectedness throughout our region and its communities. We can better understand these important dynamics by working in research and practice partnerships in housing communities feeling the impacts now. 

The goal of this discussion paper is to propose ideas for Metro 2050 that would foster neighbourhood-based social connectedness among residents of multi-unit housing, especially those who rent. The Hey Neighbour Collective has prepared this input for the review of Metro 2040’s goal area 4.2: Develop healthy and complete communities with access to a range of services and amenities. 

Six recommendations for social connectedness

  1. Enable residents to stay in their communities 
  2. Encourage social connectedness co-benefits in housing upgrade programs 
  3. Foster design education and dialogue for social connectedness in multi-unit housing 
  4. Advocate for funding and support of social connectedness programming 
  5. Prioritize underserved neighbourhoods for social infrastructure 
  6. Track and report on social connectedness