New Legislation to Drive Multi-Unit Home Construction - Fifth Avenue REM mediaiqdigital tracking pixel
Market Intelligence, Real Estate News | November 3, 2023

The housing landscape will transform as BC introduces groundbreaking legislation to spur small-scale multi-unit home construction. In an ambitious move, the province has set its sights on building 130,000 new homes within the next decade, and the journey begins with this new legislation. Let’s delve into the details and implications of this legislative change.

The Legislation in a Nutshell

On November 1, 2023, BC ushered in an era of change by introducing new legislation to facilitate small-scale multi-unit home construction. This legislative move aims to address the pressing need for more housing options and affordability. The province’s vision is clear: encouraging the development of diverse housing options to meet the demands of its growing population.

One of the key features of this legislation is the role of municipalities in driving this transformation. BC has mandated that municipalities across the region adopt new zoning bylaws that align with the provincial changes. These changes are set to come into effect by June 30 of next year, providing local governments with a tight but necessary timeline to adapt.

The legislation comes with a clear message for municipalities: change must happen, and it must happen swiftly. If a community doesn’t change its bylaws by the deadline, the province could do it. This underscores the province’s commitment to the cause.

A Focus on Communities

The changes, primarily aimed at communities with populations exceeding 5,000 people, significantly alter zoning regulations. These changes include allowing multi-unit developments on single-family and duplex lots, with the number of units determined by factors such as the lot’s size and proximity to transportation. This means developments could include townhouses, laneway homes, and houseplexes. Zoning limited to single-family construction will be largely phased out, except for some smaller communities.

Notably, Vancouver, with its own charter, isn’t included in the new rules. Nevertheless, the Vancouver council has already taken steps to approve bylaw changes, allowing multi-unit homes in neighbourhoods where only single-family homes had been previously permitted.

According to Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon, who initially unveiled the proposals in April, this legislation aims to streamline municipal processes to expedite home construction. “Our government is full-speed ahead when it comes to taking meaningful actions to address BC’s housing crisis,” he said.

To facilitate this transition, the province has committed to providing a policy manual for the approximately 85 municipalities affected by the changes by December. Additionally, a $ 51 million fund will assist municipalities in supporting housing initiatives, with another $10 million available through the local government development approvals program.

Looking Ahead

Municipalities must also complete updates to official community plans by December 31, 2025. The province has expressed confidence that land values will not see significant spikes due to the changes, citing examples from other jurisdictions. Furthermore, the legislation sets clear guidelines to ensure that the number of units on a property is not limited to the provincial legislation.

The introduction of this legislation has garnered support from various stakeholders. Premier David Eby emphasized the importance of evolving zoning rules to meet the evolving needs of the population. The move towards more small-scale, multi-unit homes within existing neighbourhoods is seen as a step towards providing housing options that are within reach for a wider demographic.

With this groundbreaking legislation, BC is set to embark on a journey of housing transformation, providing more options for its residents and aiming to tackle the ongoing housing crisis. The rapid changes set forth by the legislation demonstrate the province’s commitment to ensuring its housing landscape adapts to the evolving needs of its population. It’s a bold step towards a brighter housing future for BC.

Further reading:

BC Government News

The Times Colonist 

The Times Colonist

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