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New rules help deliver housing faster in B.C.

June 18, 2024 at 12:35 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

New regulations are in effect to standardize and improve community planning in the province and make it easier to get more homes for people built faster.

In fall 2023, the Province made legislative changes to facilitate the delivery of more housing and provide more certainty and transparency of rezoning processes instead of a drawn-out, costly and restrictive approach. This shift involves more upfront community planning by local governments and improvements to outdated zoning rules, which will make it easier to increase different types of housing in the province.

The Province has adopted a new approach to preparing housing needs reports (HNR) as part of the new community planning process. Local governments will continue to complete HNRs every five years and will now be required to use a new provincial standardized method, the HNR method, for calculating housing need. This will provide a more robust, comparable and consistent approach to identifying the number of housing units to address current and anticipated needs over five and 20 years in each community. Other changes include a new requirement to include information about the need for housing close to transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

All local governments must complete an interim HNR by Jan. 1, 2025, and then municipalities must update their official community plans (OCP) and zoning bylaws by Dec. 31, 2025. In each municipality, the updated OCP and zoning bylaws must accommodate the number of housing units identified in the HNR. These changes build on and align with the new requirements related to small-scale multi-unit housing and other recent legislative changes.

The Province has developed guidance documents to support local governments to meet the new requirements, including a summary of the HNR requirements, a frequently asked questions document and a technical guide to the HNR method. These resources are accessible online starting June 18, 2024. In addition, the University of British Columbia’s Housing Assessment Resource Tools is also developing an online tool, the HNR calculator, to help local governments prepare their HNRs using the new methodology. The tool is planned to be available in July 2024 and will be of significant support to local governments as they develop their interim and future HNRs.

The regulation is part of the Homes for People plan to give local governments the authority and support to increase housing with proactive planning tools. Since 2017, the Province has nearly 80,000 homes delivered or underway in B.C.

Quick Facts:

  • In fall 2023, the Province passed Bill 44, the Housing Statutes (Residential Development) Amendment Act, which requires that the zoned capacity of land reflect local housing needs and shifts to a more proactive community planning.
  • All local governments must complete an interim HNR by Jan. 1, 2025.
  • Municipalities must update their official community plans and zoning bylaws by Dec. 31, 2025.
  • Local governments will need to complete HNRs by Dec. 31, 2028, and every five years thereafter.
  • Municipalities will need to complete OCP and zoning bylaw updates by Dec. 31, 2030, and then every five years.
  • Regional districts are exempt from OCP and zoning bylaw updates.

Learn More:

For more information about housing needs reports, including resources, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/local-governments-and-housing/policy-and-planning-tools-for-housing/housing-needs-reports

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

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