Previous Events

The Parking Break: Parking Reform and Gentle Density

On September 13th, we assembled a group of parking and transportation reform champions to help the Gentle Density Network explore what parking reform and gentle density might look like in their communities

Pipes & Wires: Servicing and Infrastructure Recommendations for Gentle Density Housing

The prospect of upzoning single-detached neighbourhoods to 3-4 or more units per lot has planners, civil engineers, and utility providers wrestling with how to plan for servicing the increased density, and councils and finance officers wondering how to pay for it all. In April, Small Housing convened a roundtable of these experts to tackle these questions. On August 2nd, a group of 48 planners and engineers joined us as we shared the resulting recommendations, including a special presentation from BC Hydro taking a deep dive into all things electrical — connection upgrades, transformer requirements, and system capacity.

Exploring Public Perceptions of Infill Housing in British Columbia

We are eager to share our public engagement research with our Small Housing community. At this webinar, Avalanche Insights will present Small Housing’s survey results, namely the barriers and opportunities that the public face in regard to engaging with gentle density housing solutions.

Join Small Housing Director, Akua Schatz, and guests, Kyla Yeoman and Zoë Tomaskova-Redfield of Avalanche Insights to review highlights of Small Housing’s public opinion survey and gain a greater understanding of the public’s perception around small-scale infill housing in single-detached neighbourhoods.

Exploring Gentle Density Supply and Housing Affordability

Local governments continue to face challenges with respect to housing supply and affordability. Gentle density infill housing strategies provide a promising way to increase housing supply in already built areas, but the question of affordability still remains. To address this question and provide recommendations, Small Housing gathered an expert roundtable to identify the most effective and promising tools and practices that local governments can deploy to increase gentle density housing supply and affordability.

Watch James Moore, City of Kelowna, and Matt Thomson, Urban Matters, for the third Gentle Density Network session to learn about the roundtable’s recommendations on affordability and understand how the City of Kelowna increased gentle density supply and affordability.

Land Development Economics for Gentle Density Development

Watch to learn about the land development economics behind Gentle Density initiatives as we focus on feasibility, viability and homeowner capacity building.

This session features a panel discussion with Tyler Bump, Senior Economic Advisor at ECONorthwest, Jeff Waters, Principal at Waters Development Management, and Madonna Blunt, Certified Residential Appraiser.

Watch our webinar to learn more about our policy proposals to expand the supply of affordable and attainable housing in British Columbia.

Together, we can work to release the potential of single-detached neighbourhoods and encourage the creation of housing that will meet the needs of today’s families and communities.

This session features Jake Fry, Founder and Director of Small Housing BC; Akua Schatz, Director of Small Housing BC; and Tamara White, Associate Executive Director of Small Housing BC.

During this 60-minute webinar attendees will learn more about our summary of recommendations:

  •  Discover how strata-title for accessory dwelling units could unlock more housing options for first-time buyers, and support the financing of new supply
  • How a province-wide gentle density housing (GDH) policy can jump start this new supply of missing middle housing
  • Explore how the Permanently Attainable Home Ownership (PAtH) model can support both attainable home ownership and secure affordable housing for middle-income earners

Infill Development in Edmonton: Strategies for Success

On February 15, 2023, we launched our Gentle Density Networkwebinar series, where we learned more about how the City of Edmonton garnered public support for infill development in residential neighbourhoods.

Speakers: Nicholas Rheubottom, Executive Director at Infill Development Edmonton Association (IDEA), and Travis Fong, Co-Founder and President of YEGarden Suites.

Discover how infill is allowed in the City of Edmonton and the City’s role in supporting infill and learn about the resources provided by external organizations to support infill development.

Infill Development in Edmonton: Strategies for Success brings leaders to better understand how public support is garnered for infill development in residential neighbourhoods and explore strategies that can be transferred to BC communities (including municipal policies and processes, partnerships, resources and engagement tactics/messages). Watch these insightful presentations with Nicholas and Travis, followed by an audience Q&A.

Nicholas Rheubottom, Executive Director,
Infill Development in Edmonton Association (IDEA)

Nicholas is the Executive Director of the Infill Development in Edmonton Association (IDEA), a non-profit organization that provides education and resources on infill development to the community, industry, utility providers and municipalities. Having worked in the industry for the past five years, Nicholas knows, firsthand, the importance of infill as a solution for the economic and environmental challenges that cities face in terms of affordable housing and sustainable infrastructure. He is excited to advocate on behalf of IDEA’s members for municipal legislation and educational resources that both support and encourage infill development.

In terms of education, Nicholas has a different background than most in the industry. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Regina and a Master of Arts from the University of Alberta. He also lived in the UK for two and half years pursuing doctoral studies at King’s College London. Prior to his position as Executive Director, Nicholas served as Co-Chair of IDEA’s Policy committee, allowing him to actively engage with recent city projects such as the Zoning Bylaw Renewal Initiative. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys the quiet company of friends and family spending summer weekends at the cabin with his partner Stuart and their dog Rogue.

Travis Fong, Co-Founder and President of YEGarden Suites

Travis is an economist and political organizer. He has worked on multiple development projects including affordable seniors housing and renewable energy. Travis’ passion for economics led him to study the efficiency and growth of cities.

Originally from Halifax, Travis moved to Edmonton after graduating from Dalhousie University with a BA Honours in Sustainability and Political Science, with a minor in Economics. Travis has a MA in Economics from the University of Waterloo.

Prior to co-founding YEGarden Suites, Travis worked with the City of Edmonton to implement public initiatives related to sustainable behaviour change. He is the CFO of Municipaction Inc. and is actively involved in Edmonton’s infill community.

Travis’s passion for urbanism and interest in land-use economics spurred his interest in innovative housing, such as garden suites. Travis now divides his time between YEGarden Suites and working as a researcher with Edmonton City Councillor, Ashley Salvador.

Over 80 Municipal Planners and Elected Officials Gather to Discuss Gentle Density

On November 22 and 23, Small Housing hosted over 80 gentle density advocates from across BC at our Gentle Density Local Leaders’ Summit. Small Housing hosted the event on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.

With Premier Eby’s November 21st Housing Supply Act announcement as a backdrop, delegates were keen to explore implementing gentle density in their communities. The two-day program was facilitated by representatives from Small Housing, WCS Planning + Engagement (WCS), and Urban Matters, and featured guest speakers from BC, Oregon and California. Participants and presenters returned to their communities feeling inspired, engaged and optimistic about the future of gentle density housing in B.C.

Forty municipal planners gathered for the day program and were later joined by 40+ elected officials, industry members and community leaders for the evening program. Staff from Small Housing, WCS Engagement + Planning, and Urban Matters facilitated the busy agenda, featuring guest speakers Tyler Bump (OR), Ethan Stuckmayer (OR), Renee Schomp (CA), and Mark Masongsong (BC).

In total, 26 municipalities and 20 local, provincial and national organizations were represented at the #GenDenSummit.

In addition, we were joined by gentle density supporters and housing advocates from organizations such as Canadian Homebuilders Association of BC, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Real Estate Foundation of BC, Union of BC Municipalities, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, MetroVancouver, Renewable Cities, and Tofino Housing Corporation, to name just a few.

Sharing lessons learned and the opportunities ahead 

On November 22, delegates explored the results of the province-wide planners’ survey, which was conducted earlier in the fall and received over 50 responses. Planners from Kelowna, Nelson, and Victoria presented overviews of gentle density and missing middle initiatives.

Tyler Bump (ECO Northwest), Ethan Stuckmayer (Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development) and Renee Schomp (Napa Sonoma ADU Center) highlighted leading practices in Oregon and California, including public engagement, making a business case for gentle density housing and supporting staff capacity. A Peer Input Process, led by expert panellists, tackled the question: “How can Local Governments support the private sector to strengthen the business case to more rapidly scale up new Gentle Density products?” Planners explored answers to their pressing questions about gentle density, including balancing stormwater management, form and character, and setting housing targets during the Open Space session.

Mark Masongsong of Urban Logiq presented an overview of the interactive Webtool they are developing with Small Housing, which is a reference tool for planners that will be designed as a scalable and extensible platform and includes georeferenced data integrations and a user forum function.

The evening program began with a panel discussion about implementing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Oregon and California, featuring Tyler Bump, Ethan Stuckmayer, and Renee Schomp. The reception that followed offered opportunities to continue conversations and create new connections.

On November 23, approximately 20 delegates convened to kick off the first Affordability and Community of Practice advisory roundtable discussions. Both groups will continue meeting over the next 18 months. Another 20 toured Vancouver’s Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood, exploring gentle density infill projects in the area, expertly led by civic historian John Atkin.

Looking ahead: implementing gentle density in British Columbia and beyond 

Four key themes and learnings were identified over the course of the Summit:

  1. Gentle density is not a ‘silver bullet’; rather, it is one intervention to help address housing needs in B.C. communities.
  2. In the face of complex issues surrounding densification, decision-makers and planners need helpful tools and concrete examples of the potential impacts of gentle density.
  3. There is an emerging need to prepare and grow capacity in the developer community specifically about gentle density, as density is increasingly mandated, and the approaches to implementation are diverse.
  4. The transition to gentle density can occur only with equitable representation of the diversity of voices in our communities. Meaningful, inclusive engagement with residents is essential to success.

Moving forward, Small Housing will continue to spark conversation amongst our budding Community of Practice by listening, learning, and working together to realize the role of gentle density in contributing to more affordable, vibrant and climate-friendly communities.

A big thank you to our partners and supporters

With gratitude, Small Housing acknowledges the support of the Real Estate Foundation of BC and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for the funding to produce this multijurisdictional dialogue.

Thanks to Galen Aker, John Atkin, Brie Collins, Elora Dulac, Kristen Elkow, Shannon Gordon, Cheeying Ho, Mark Masongsong, Kim Slater, Matt Thomson, Jenn To, Jordan Wade, Dan Wilson and David Yeung for their support in producing the event.
We also thank Strong Towns, Journal of Commerce, and Vancouver Sun for their coverage of the event.