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This competition lets you shape the future of Metro Vancouver neighbourhoods (VIDEO)

Help solve urban planning problems, like zoning

Have you ever dreamed of making your neighbourhood more livable?

You may now have a chance.

Nonprofit group Urbanarium is hosting a new competition allowing Vancouver residents to rethink their communities and impact future zoning policies.

The Mixing Middle project is open to anyone keen on sharing their vision of mixed-use neighbourhoods. Entrants also have a chance to help solve urban planning issues.

Individuals or teams can submit designs intended to revitalize areas in four Metro Vancouver communities: Vancouver, North Vancouver, Surrey, and Coquitlam. The chosen competition sites are in single-family residential-use zones. Some of the municipalities only permit basement suites and laneway houses. The initiative is a chance to explore multifunctional mixed-uses, such as businesses or studio spaces attached to homes. 

Everyone from architects to artists can apply, and youth are also encouraged to participate.

The goal of the competition is to "create more vibrant neighbourhoods that meet the needs of intergenerational and multicultural residents by expanding the ways that people live, work, and create in traditionally single-family zoned areas."

"I think the idea of a mixed-use community, the mixing middle, is trying to make communities that offer more than just housing for people, more than just domestic life," explains the project's Uytae Lee.

Lee says Vancouver has a rich history of mixed-use housing that faded over time because of strict zoning bylaws.

"The early 1900s was a time when the city of Vancouver was really like the wild west. That was all possible because we lived in a time before zoning bylaws and regulations that effectively limited what you could do on your property."

Registration closes Nov. 2, but proposals are not due until Jan. 14, 2022. Winning ideas will share a $35,000 cash prize and be included in presentations to the four city councils and municipal staff. 

Each contestant will be assigned a four-block zone after registration closes. Specific zones were selected for their proximity to commercial areas. Proposals can help increase walkability and even house businesses displaced by commercial development.

Winners will be announced on Feb. 11, 2022.