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Regulations, policy manuals issued to help deliver more homes for people faster

December 7, 2023 at 1:48 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Regulations and policy manuals have been issued to further support local governments as they work in partnership with homebuilders to deliver more homes for people.

“Over the fall session, our government passed comprehensive laws to deliver more homes for people faster in every part of B.C.,” said Premier David Eby. “We are in a housing crisis and we will continue to take strong action to deliver thousands more middle-class homes families can afford.”

In the fall legislative session, the government introduced a suite of housing legislation to deliver more homes for people faster in every part of B.C.

Today, details and technical resources to support the implementation of Bill 35 – Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act, Bill 44 – Housing Statutes (Residential Development) Amendment Act and Bill 47 – Housing Statutes (Transit-Oriented Areas) Amendment Act have been provided to local governments.

“The action we are taking is strong, comprehensive and designed to meet one of the greatest challenges people face, here in B.C., and in jurisdictions across Canada and around the world,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “We leveraged ideas from some of the most successful action taken on housing from around the world and we made B.C. a leader. These regulations will help local governments work with homebuilders to deliver viable housing projects, that help more people find homes in existing neighbourhoods and next to transit hubs.”

Bill 35 – Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act:

Like many jurisdictions around the world, B.C. is regulating short-term rentals to turn more units into long-term homes for people. The new rules give local governments stronger enforcement tools, restrict short-term rentals to principal residences and either a secondary suite or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in many B.C. communities, and establish a new provincial role in regulating short-term rentals.

Regulations define what constitutes a principal residence, list the communities where the principal-residency requirement applies and detail accommodation-service providers that will be exempt from the principal-residence requirement, such as some strata-titled hotels and motels, fishing/hunting lodges and time shares.

The guidelines also provide additional details, including how local governments can annually request by resolution to the Province to “opt out” of the principal-residence requirement if the community has a rental-vacancy rate of 3% or more for two consecutive years, and assist local governments applying the new provincial legislation alongside existing local government short-term rental bylaws.

Bill 44 – Housing Statutes (Residential Development) Amendment Act:

Historical zoning rules in many B.C. communities have resulted in new housing being mostly in the form of condos or single-family homes that are out of 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.

The regulations detail requirements for local governments to update zoning bylaws to allow either a minimum of one secondary suite or detached accessory dwelling unit, a minimum of three to four dwelling units, or a minimum of six dwelling units in selected areas near bus stops with frequent transit service.  

The Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing Provincial Policy Manual with site standards has also been released to help local governments work with homebuilders to move forward with viable housing projects. Municipalities are required by legislation to consider this manual when developing local zoning bylaws and policies.  

 Bill 47 – Housing Statutes (Transit-Oriented Areas) Amendment Act:

In some cases, higher-density neighbourhoods have been established around transit hubs, but in other cases, restrictive zoning bylaws and parking requirements, along with delayed development approvals, continue to slow down the delivery of homes and services near transit hubs.

Through regulations, transit-oriented development (TOD) areas have now been defined. The regulations will prescribe 104 TOD Areas in 31 municipalities throughout B.C. within the first year of the legislation coming into effect. A full list of these municipalities is available in Backgrounder 2.

The Provincial Policy Guidance Manual: Transit-Oriented Areas is a resource created to support local governments with the implementation of provincial Transit Oriented Area (TOA) requirements. The manual defines transit-oriented areas, prescribes minimum allowable densities and restricts local governments’ ability to mandate residential parking. Municipalities are required by legislation to consider this manual when developing bylaws for TOAs. 

Further details of regulations for all three pieces of legislation, including links to policy manuals and regulations, are included in the backgrounder at the end of this release.

Modelling scenarios:

In addition, the Province has released detailed modelling scenarios for the implementation of Bill 44 and 47. The Ministry of Housing retained a group of leading economic and planning experts to analyze what impacts the new frameworks for more small-scale, multi-unit homes (SSMUH) and designated transit-oriented development areas could have in B.C.

The analysis used relevant international examples of recent zoning changes, particularly in New Zealand and Washington state, and examples from B.C., such as Kelowna. It’s important to note that modelling of future scenarios cannot account for unforeseen circumstances, the changing nature of housing, real estate markets and other factors.

The findings from the analysis anticipates small-scale, multi-unit and transit-oriented development legislation could lead to between 216,000 and 293,000 additional net-new housing units for British Columbians over the next 10 years.

The full report is now available to be accessed in Backgrounder 1.

The legislation and the accompanying regulations and guides are part of the Province’s Homes for People action plan. Announced in spring 2023, the plan builds on historic action to deliver housing since 2017 and sets out further actions to deliver the homes people need faster, while creating more vibrant communities throughout B.C.

Timelines:

  • Released today:
    • regulations for Bill 35, 44, 47 deposited;
    • Province designates interim TOD Areas and policy manual released; and
    • small-scale, multi-unit housing policy manual provided to local governments.
  • January 2024:
    • $51 million distributed to local governments to help meet new requirements that promote the Province’s housing-density initiatives.  
  • Early 2024:
    • Housing Needs Report guidance provided to local governments.
  • Feb. 29, 2024:
    • local governments’ request must be submitted to opt out of the principal-residence requirement.
  • May 1, 2024:
    • principal-residence requirement (including definition of exempt areas or accommodations), changes to legal non-conforming use protections; and
    • short-term rental hosts will be required to display a valid business licence number on their listing, where a business licence is required by a local government.
  • June/July 2024:
    • guidance provided to municipalities to update Official Community Plans and zoning bylaws.
       
  • June 30, 2024:
    • local governments must have designated TOD Areas bylaw and removed minimum residential-parking requirements; and
    • local governments must have updated their zoning bylaw to accommodate small-scale, multi-unit housing requirements (except in areas where they have applied for an extension).
  • Jan. 1, 2025:
    • local governments must have completed their interim Housing Needs Report.
  • Dec. 31, 2025:
    • municipalities update of their Official Community Plans and zoning bylaws (based on the interim Housing Needs Report).

Quotes:

Jens von Bergmann, Mountain Math  

“The SSMUH and TOA policies enable more housing options across the province, especially in centrally located areas with good transit access. We estimate that these initiatives will produce around 250,000 net-new homes over the next 10 years, helping British Columbians to form households more freely and live in communities of their choice, reducing rents and prices significantly below what they would have been in the absence of these reforms. The legislation serves to boost supply elasticity and help bring the price of housing back in line with the cost to build it.”

Jake Fry, founder and principal, Smallworks –

“The new standards create a pathway to ground-oriented, family-sized homes, complete with access to green space. This is the type of bold leadership we need to enable truly attainable housing for British Columbians.”

Mike P. Moffatt, PLACE Centre Smart Prosperity Institute

“British Columbia’s reforms to allow for more homes near transit provides a model for other provinces to emulate. It will allow families to live closer to where they work, play and shop, and significantly reduce emissions from transportation. Hundreds of thousands of homes will now exist, thanks to this suite of policies.”

Leo Spalteholz, advocate, Homes for Living –

“Of the suite of reforms passed this fall, removing barriers to transit-oriented development has the potential to deliver the most new housing in the shortest timeframe in B.C.  In a time of rising construction costs, de-risking approvals and reducing costs for housing is crucial to address the shortage of homes.”

Peter Waldkirch, director, Abundant Housing Vancouver  

“For too long, renters and people living in apartments have been confined to a minority of Vancouver’s land. Even in the face of a severe housing shortage, apartments are banned close to some Skytrain stations. Abundant Housing Vancouver welcomes these steps towards legalizing housing near transit, along with others that will open up more areas to increased housing choice and new neighbours.”

Julius Bloomfield, mayor of Penticton

“The housing crisis requires all levels of government to focus on creating more housing stock across the entire spectrum and the introduction of the regulations for short-term rentals brings clarity. Developers can either build vacation-accommodation only units that meet the regulations or they can construct long-term housing projects. Penticton continues to experience rapid growth and needs partners to help meet the economic, social and housing challenges ahead.”

Jack Crompton, mayor, Resort Municipality of Whistler –

“Housing for tourism workers really is the most important strategic priority for ensuring a strong and growing tourism economy for B.C. The enforcement tools the Province has made available through this legislation will allow Whistler to be more effective in our regulation of short-term rentals. This is good legislation.”

Thorben Wieditz, executive director, Fairbnb Canada Network –

“Fairbnb Canada Network would like to thank Housing Minister Kahlon for his leadership in establishing provincewide short-term rental regulations in B.C. The new regulatory measures will go a long way in helping local governments more effectively enforce short-term rental regulations and return much-needed housing stock to the long-term rental market. Establishing a provincial short-term rental registry, a provincewide principal residence requirement, platform accountability and data-sharing measures establish B.C. as a nationwide leader in protecting scarce housing stock from conversion into ghost-hotel inventory. We hope that more provinces will learn from B.C. and follow suit.”

Learn More:

To view a set of summary slides about the regulations and policy manuals, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/HousingGuidelines_Regs_SummarySlides_V2.pdf  

To learn about government’s new Homes for People action plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436

To view a map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C., visit: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC

To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/housing/

For more information about B.C. legislation, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/legislation

Four backgrounders follow.

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