Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon has presented a legislative proposal to promote the growth of small-scale, multi-unit housing within the province. The legislation mandates municipalities to change zoning rules to make building townhomes, multiplexes and laneway houses easier.

James and Denny review the new changes and express their opinions on how these alterations will impact density and the real estate market.

This episode will cover BC’s plans to increase home density, small scale multiunit housing, Transit oriented development and what it means, NIMBYSM, David Eby making changes, changes to laneway houses, phasing out public hearings for development, and future changes. 

British Columbia is on the cusp of a transformative change in housing, aiming to introduce more density and diversity in residential developments. With the push towards Small Scale, Multi-Unit (SSMU) Housing and the strategic development of Transit-Oriented Development Areas (TODs), BC is setting the stage for a more inclusive and accessible housing market.

The provincial legislation (Bill 44) aims to bring sweeping changes to local government planning frameworks, requiring all municipalities to update zoning bylaws to permit secondary suites or laneway homes in all single-family residential zones. Furthermore, by June 30, 2024, municipalities with populations over 5,000 within urban containment boundaries are required to permit small-scale, multi-unit housing, like triplexes and townhomes, on lots zoned for single-family or duplex use. The legislation specifies that three to four units will be allowed on smaller lots, while six units can be permitted on larger lots closer to transit stops with frequent service

Small Scale, Multi-Unit (SSMU) Housing: A Closer Look

At this moment in most cities, a single-family lot in BC could accommodate three dwellings: the main house, a basement suite, and a laneway house. However, these additional units couldn’t be sold separately. The new direction for SSMU housing seeks to expand this, allowing for 3-4 units on lots currently zoned for single-family or duplex homes, and up to 6 units on larger lots near transit hubs, plus the option of adding a secondary suite or laneway home.

This move requires municipalities to adapt their bylaws to accommodate the growing need for diverse housing options. Additionally, the process for housing projects consistent with the Official Community Plan (OCP) will see the phasing out of public hearings, streamlining the development process.

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Areas:

TODs are strategically positioned within 800 meters of rapid transit stations or 400 meters of bus exchanges, focusing on increased density and building height to encourage public transit use and reduce reliance on cars. These areas are divided into tiers based on proximity to transit, with specific guidelines for Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and building height, promoting a compact and efficient urban form.

Notably, TOD areas are expected to generate over 100,000 new homes in the next decade, demonstrating the province’s commitment to addressing the housing shortage through innovative planning.

Parking and Development Flexibility:

In line with encouraging public transit use, parking minimums for new developments near transit stops will be reduced, with no minimum requirements within 400 meters of these stops. This policy empowers builders to determine parking needs based on actual demand, except for necessary accessibility parking.

Impact and Inspiration:

The anticipated impact of these changes is significant, mirroring successful international models like Auckland, New Zealand, where similar policies have led to the creation of over 20,000 new homes in five years. BC’s approach aims to make housing more accessible and varied, providing opportunities for more residents to find homes that fit their needs and lifestyles.

As we adapt to these changes, it’s a dynamic period for anyone involved in BC’s real estate, be it buyers, sellers, or developers. If you’re thinking of selling your property or are in the market to buy amidst this shifting landscape, being well-informed on these developments is key. For further insights and assistance in navigating the BC real estate market, don’t hesitate to get in touch for a free home evaluation or a complimentary buyer consultation.

BC is paving the way for a future where housing is more diverse, accessible, and integrated with our cities and communities. Together, we can explore the opportunities these changes bring to New Westminster, Burnaby, Port Moody, and throughout Greater Vancouver

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