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B.C. set to table housing law requiring small-scale and multi-unit zoning

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government is set to introduce legislation aimed at easing the housing crisis by spurring the development of small-scale and multi-unit homes.

The new law would require local governments to update zoning bylaws to permit multi-unit buildings on lots typically used for single-family detached homes.

It would also require one secondary suite or laneway home to be allowed on lots zoned single-family or duplex in communities throughout the province.

The changes would apply to municipalities with populations over 5,000, and the province says local governments are expected to update their bylaws to accommodate the new zoning requirements by the end of June next year.

The B.C. government says it will release $51 million along with a policy manual in order to support local governments to implement the required changes.

The province says a preliminary analysis indicates B.C. could see more than 130,000 new small-scale homes over the next 10 years as a result of the changes, although modelling can’t account for unforeseen circumstances or the changing nature of housing and real estate markets. 

The proposed changes also require official community plans to be updated every five years with public engagement.

The legislation set to be introduced Wednesday comes ahead of an upcoming provincial pilot project to provide forgivable loans of up to $40,000 for homeowners to build a secondary suite and rent it out below market rates.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2023.

The Canadian Press