B.C. legislation would legalize small-scale multi-family homes provincewide

Click to play video: 'B.C. advancing plan to get more affordable housing built'
B.C. advancing plan to get more affordable housing built
B.C's housing minister is rolling out new legislation requiring cities to update zoning bylaws to increase density and speed up construction. Richard Zussman reports. – Nov 1, 2023

The B.C. government has introduced new legislation that would legalize small-scale, multi-unit homes in cities provincewide.

The changes, part of the NDP government’s Homes for People plan, were unveiled Wednesday by Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon.

Under the new legislation, municipalities of 5,000 people or more will be required to update their zoning rules, allowing for three to four units on a standard residential lot, and up to six units on larger lots near rapid transit.

Click to play video: 'B.C. releases housing targets for 10 municipalities'
B.C. releases housing targets for 10 municipalities

Communities must also allow at least one laneway home or secondary suite on single-family or duplex lots.

Story continues below advertisement

“Restrictive zoning means that in many B.C. communities, the majority of residential areas is reserved for single-family detached homes, homes that are too expensive and out of reach for many people looking to enter the housing market,” Kahlon said.

“(This legislation) will make it easier to develop more small-scale, multi-unit homes in B.C., this includes townhomes, duplexes, triplexes and laneway homes, the types of homes that have been overlooked because of outdated zoning laws in many communities which make it difficult to build anything except expensive single-family homes and high-rise towers.”

The new provincial rules are also aimed at speeding up the permitting and construction process at the municipal level.

Changes to this effect will require municipalities to streamline permitting by updating their community plans and zoning bylaws every five years, while forecasting and planning for housing needs for the next decades.

The legislation will also phase out one-off public hearings for housing project rezonings that fit within a community’s existing official community plan.

Click to play video: 'B.C. announces two new initiatives to speed up homebuilding'
B.C. announces two new initiatives to speed up homebuilding

“By moving public consultation earlier in the process, we’re providing a better, more fulsome chance for everyone in the community to be a part of building vibrant and healthy communities,” Kahlon said.

Story continues below advertisement

We’re also shifting more zoning processes up front, saving viable and valuable processes from being caught up with redundant zonings for months and years.”

The province forecasts that the changes could deliver up to 130,000 new small-scale multi-unit homes in the decade to come.

The provincial government has previously pledged $51 million to help municipalities offset the costs of streamlining their densification housing approval processes, and $10 million through the Local Government Development Approvals Program.

Sponsored content