A recent article outlining how Vancouver became a family-friendly city reinforces how concerted planning and supportive policies can ensure higher density is suitable for all ages.

Follow the link to see Vancouver’s High Density Housing for Families with Children Guidelines below

These guidelines, issued by the City of Vancouver in 1992, detail the requirements for developments of 75 units or more and which are designed specifically for families with children.  The PDF can be downloaded here.


In 2015 the City of Toronto commenced research to determine how communities comprised of high density multi-unit buildings could better accommodate the needs of households with children and youth.  Many households with children already live in multi-unit buildings. In 2011 for example, 32% of households with children in the City of Toronto lived in mid and high rise buildings. Higher density housing is the fastest growing building type in the City.

Draft guidelines have been developed that highlights the importance of integrated community facilities and amenities, the need for a comfortable and safe public realm and the creation of a range of housing options in communities.

The Guidelines are structured at three scales: neighbourhood, building and unit. Developments are intended to deliver tangible outcomes to increase liveability for larger households, including families with children at each scale. At the neighbourhood scale, the guidelines focus on children’s experience in the city, promoting independent mobility, access to parks, schools and community infrastructure.

The guidelines emphasize the benefits of co-location of community facilities such as child care facilities in new developments.  At the building scale, the guidelines seek to improve community within new developments by increasing the number of larger units, encouraging the design of functional and flexible amenity space and common space that supports resident interaction and lingering. Provision of a critical mass of larger units lin lower portions of the building create a sense of community for families with children and direct access to outdoor child-friendly amenity.

At the unit scale, the guidelines focus on size and functionality, recommending minimum areas for each element to ensure that a unit provides the space for the social functions of family life.

Download the draft guidelines at https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/planning-studies-initiatives/growing-up-planning-for-children-in-new-vertical-communities/