Vancouver’s missing middle: Dec. 14, 2020 Tyee article highlights videos by Uytae Lee scrutinizing housing gap, between glassy towers and detached houses



A March 13, 2021 NPR article is entitled: “Facing Housing Crunch, California Cities Rethink Single-Family Neighborhoods.”

An excerpt reads:

“Housing is one of the main drivers of segregation and systemic racism in America,” he says. “And to the extent that cities can take it upon themselves to address this through land use reform, this has become a really important topic in city councils throughout the country.”

Single-family zoning — the rules that restrict development to one home per lot — got its start in 1916 in Berkeley, Calif. The rules were enacted as a way to block a Black-owned dancehall and Chinese-owned laundries from certain neighborhoods.

A Jan. 29, 2021 Planetizen article is entitled: “The Connecticut Zoning Atlas Illustrates a Proclivity for Single-Family Zoning: A new online interactive mapping tool illustrates just how much developable land is devoted to one for of residential housing in the state of Connecticut.”

An excerpt reads:

Desegregate Connecticut has released a new Connecticut Zoning Atlas in collaboration with the Connecticut Data Collaborative and with the participation of 63 municipal planners across the state. First and foremost, the Atlas illustrates a lack of zoning for multi-family housing across the state.

A Dec. 16, 2020 Treehugger article is entitled: “This Modern Tiny House Rental Brings in Extra Income for Retiree. Built in an older woman’s backyard, this modern tiny house rental brings in extra cash to help pay the bills.”

An excerpt (the embedded links have been omitted) reads:

That’s the case with this lovely tiny house in Atlanta, Georgia, one of two which were commissioned and constructed by tiny house builder TruForm Tiny (previously) in the backyard of a retiree. Brandi, who is the woman’s daughter, helps to manage the two tiny houses under the banner of FieldTrip ATL. She tells us: “We built these to support my elderly mom who lives in the main house.”


A Dec. 14, 2020 Tyee article is entitled: “This Video Perfectly Explains Vancouver’s ‘Missing Middle’ Housing Mystery: WATCH: The city has a ton of houses and towers, but what about all the stuff in between?”

An excerpt reads:

You’ve probably seen those postcard pictures of Vancouver, the ones with glassy towers, a pristine shoreline and sublime mountains. But this skyscraper vision of the city represents less than one-fifth of the reality.

The rest? Dominated by houses, houses, houses. As Uytae Lee puts it, “it’s either Super Size or Happy Meal.”

Lee is an urban planning grad and video whiz who’s made explainers for the CBC and his own label, About Here. He teamed up with Vancouver non-profit Urbanarium for his latest production The Missing Middle Mystery.


The article features links to several videos. As the lead video by Uytae Lee in collaboration with Urbanarium underlines, the history of Vancouver (and of Canada) – including especially it zoning history – explains many things.

The “Missing Middle” video and other videos highlighted at the article emphasize that tweaks to zoning can potentially enable the missing middle to flourish – and even make life a little more enjoyable for Vancouver residents.

I became interested in the concept of the missing middle after I attended the Nov. 18, 2020 AGM of the Long Branch Neighbourhood Association, and wrote the following post:

Michael Mizzi, a senior planning manager at City of Toronto, spoke about “missing middle” at Nov. 18, 2020 Long Branch Neighbourhood Association AGM

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