News: Vancouver Real Estate Market

Bill 44 Housing Statutes (Residential Development) Amendment Act

Bill 44 Housing Statutes (Residential Development) Amendment Act, 2023 has the potential to make housing for affordable by increasing the amount of small-scale multi-unit housing in neighbourhoods that are mostly comprised of single-family homes. This includes townhomes, triplexes and laneway homes, and a plan to fix outdated zoning rules to help the process of building homes quicker. These new zoning requirements would permit higher density in areas previously zoned for single family or duplex use.

“Anyone looking for a place to live in a community they love knows how hard it is – and outdated zoning rules are making that even harder,” said Premier David Eby. “Constructing mostly high-rise condo towers or single-family homes means B.C. isn’t building enough small-scale multi-unit homes that fit into existing neighbourhoods and give people more housing options that are within reach. That’s why we’re taking action to fix zoning problems and deliver more homes for people, faster.”

Past zoning rules in many B.C. communities have led most new housing to be built mostly in the form of condos, or single-family homes that are not within reach for many people, leaving a shortage of options for the types of housing in between. Zoning barriers and layers of regulations have also slowed down the delivery of housing, making people go through long, complicated processes to build much-needed housing in communities. 

This bill will help directly impact our current housing crisis by providing fast construction of new homes. Part of this legislation which will help this case is requiring municipalities throughout B.C. to expedite and streamline permitting. They will be required to update community plans and zoning bylaws frequently on a regular basis, to ensure that they will have enough housing to meet the needs of not only current residents but future residents.

“The housing crisis has made it harder for growing families looking for more space, seniors looking to downsize, and first-time homebuyers who can’t find a home that meets their needs and budget,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “This legislation strengthens the vibrancy of our communities, while building the type of housing that will help us address the housing crisis.”

With areas over 5,000 residents, municipalities will have to allow 3 units on lots smaller than 280 sq. m. and 4 units on lots greater than 280 sq. m. on a single-family or duplex lot. Larger lots that are close to public transit with frequent service may be required to allow 6 units per single family lot. It also permits one secondary suite or one accessory dwelling units in all communities in B.C. Municipalities may designate 1 of the 6-unit lots for affordability purposes but may not apply density conditions on the 3 or 4 unit lots. There is also no minimum parking required for projects within 400 metres of transit stops and homebuilders can determine parking needs. There will be additional provincial direction on parking for lots outside of 400 m.

Bill 44 makes municipal planning in the hands of the province, which in result will significantly reduce public hearings. Although, it is important to clarify that the legislation does not eliminate public hearings completely as they are still required for Official Community Plan (OCP) amendments and re-zonings that are not consistent with an OCP that has already gone through public approval. It will also require all local governments to update HNRs using a standard provincial method to identify housing needs currently and over the next 20 years and OCPs are to be updated every 5 years with public engagement and prepared to plan for enough homes for forecasted growth over the next 20 years (rather than 5). These changes will make building new homes a way faster process by allowing developers to go straight to applying for permits. 

“As we take decisive action to deliver the kinds of homes people in B.C. are looking for, we’re also making sure communities and builders have the efficient and transparent tools they need to plan for growth with certainty,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “By doing this, we’re not just building homes for people, but also more sustainable, well-planned communities.”

The legislation also changes development cost charges and development cost levies (in the Vancouver Charter). Development cost charges are an existing tool that allows local governments to collect funds from home builders to help pay for specific, core infrastructure needs, such as drainage, water, sewer, and roads, before a development is built. Changes through this legislation will allow local governments the flexibility to allocate funds collected from homebuilders to support additional local services and infrastructure such as fire protection facilities, police facilities and solid-waste facilities that support new homes. Prior to this amendment, one of the only options to recover these costs was through property taxes. 

“As we look to tackle B.C.’s housing crisis and build more homes for people, we need to make sure that communities have the tools they need to fund these services in a more predictable way,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “Through up-front funding agreements with builders and developers, local governments will continue to fund and deliver the services people need with more certainty and clarity.”

“As we take decisive action to deliver the kinds of homes people in B.C. are looking for, we’re also making sure communities and builders have the efficient and transparent tools they need to plan for growth with certainty,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “By doing this, we’re not just building homes for people, but also more sustainable, well-planned communities.”

The Bylaw provides for an exception to the minimum density requirements where;

(i)             the subject land is subject to a hazardous condition;

(ii)           the increased density as permitted under the Act would significantly increase the threat or risk from the hazardous condition;

(iii)         the threat or risk from such hazardous condition cannot practically be mitigated.

For such exception to apply, the municipality must obtain a report from a qualified professional certifying each of the foregoing conditions.

The potential implications of Bill 44 are significant for housing in British Columbia. We can’t predict unforeseen circumstances which could impact the real estate market however with this legislation, we could see more than 130,000 new small-scale multi-unit homes in B.C. over the next 10 years. Municipalities will only have until June 30, 2024 to update their zoning bylaws to align with the new requirements. It is important to note that Bill 44 is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies, and laws may change over time, thus it is always advisable to consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.

“B.C. residents expect that new homes will be serviced with the infrastructure and amenities essential for healthy, sustainable communities. The legislation introduced today will assist local governments in funding the capital costs of critical facilities for protective services and solid-waste facilities that were not previously eligible,” says Trish Mandewo, councillor, City of Coquitlam; president, Union of British Columbia Municipalities. “The new legislative tool for amenity cost charges provides more certainty in collecting needed funds for some essential amenities like day cares, recreational facilities and libraries. Other common practices, like funding affordable housing through amenities, have not been addressed under the new rules and our members will be looking for the Province to address this gap.”

Click here for Bill 44 - Housing Statute (Residential Development) Amendment Act 2023


No comments

Post Your Comment:

Your email will not be published
Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.