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In a move set to redefine the landscape of British Columbia’s housing market, the provincial government is gearing up to introduce groundbreaking legislation that will mandate municipalities to embrace Transit Oriented Development Areas (TOD Areas) near transit hubs. If all goes according to plan, this initiative could usher in a new era of connected, vibrant communities across the province.
The proposed legislation aims to dismantle barriers that hinder the development of transit-oriented communities, creating a seamless blend of residential living and efficient public transportation.
“Building more homes near transit is good for people, communities, and helps make the most of transit, infrastructure, and services,” Ravi Kahlon
Defining TOD Areas
The heart of this legislation lies in identifying Transit Oriented Development Areas strategically located within 800 meters of a rapid transit station or 400 meters of a bus exchange. These areas will become hotspots for housing development, designed to capitalize on the proximity to transit while adhering to provincial standards for height and density.
Government Commitment and Funding
The province has committed approximately $400 million to bolster this initiative as part of Budget 2023. This funding will be directed towards developing thousands of units at or near transit over the next decade, leveraging public lands to create affordable housing in connected, livable communities.
Government officials acknowledge the challenges faced in establishing higher-density neighbourhoods around transit hubs.
Restrictive zoning bylaws, parking requirements, and delayed development approvals have impeded progress. The proposed legislation seeks to eliminate these roadblocks, streamlining the process for builders and developers.
Key Provisions of the Legislation
In the designated TOD Areas, municipalities will be mandated to:
- Permit housing developments meeting provincial standards for height and density.
- Remove restrictive parking minimums, allowing parking to be determined by need and demand on a project-by-project basis.
- Utilize standards outlined in the provincial policy manual to consistently develop TOD Areas.
Looking Ahead: The Numbers Game
While the future is unpredictable, preliminary analysis indicates that BC could witness the creation of approximately 100,000 new housing units in TOD Areas over the next decade. The province plans to support this legislation by creating a provincial policy manual, aiding municipalities in setting site standards and progressing proposed housing projects.
Regulations and the policy manual are expected to be released in December 2023. Local governments must designate lands for transit-oriented growth in their official community plans by June 30, 2024, to align with the new legislation. It is anticipated that approximately 100 TOD Areas will be designated in 30 municipalities within the first year of the legislation taking effect.
With the proposed legislation, British Columbia is not just building homes; it’s constructing the framework for thriving, transit-centric communities. As we await the release of the detailed regulations, one thing is certain: the future of BC housing is on the move, and it’s riding the transit wave.
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