B.C. releases support materials for home construction reforms
Officials have revealed regulations and policy manuals offering more details into recent law changes.
B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon. – Province of B.C.
- 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.
- In January 2024, $51 million distributed to local governments to help meet new requirements that promote the Province’s housing-density initiatives.
- By June 2024, local governments must have designated Transit Oriented Development Areas bylaw and removed minimum residential-parking requirements. They also must update their zoning bylaw to accommodate small-scale, multi-unit housing requirements (except in areas where they have applied for an extension).
- Provincial modeling predicts small-scale, multi-unit and transit-oriented development legislation could lead to between 216,000 and 293,000 additional net-new housing units over the next 10 years.
The Whole Story:
Regulations and policy manuals have been issued to support B.C.’s latest home construction reforms.
In the fall legislative session, the government introduced a suite of housing legislation aimed at speeding up home construction. This week, 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.
“Over the fall session, our government passed comprehensive laws to deliver more homes for people faster in every part of B.C. We are in a housing crisis and we will continue to take strong action to deliver thousands more middle-class homes families can afford.”Premier David Eby
“We leveraged ideas from some of the most successful action taken on housing from around the world and we made B.C. a leader. said Ravi Kahlon, minister of housing. 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:
B.C. is regulating short-term rentals to turn more units into long-term homes. 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:
According to the province, 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.
Officials noted that 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:
Officials explained that 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.
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.
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 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. Officials noted 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 over the next 10 years.
- $51 million distributed to local governments to help meet new requirements that promote the Province’s housing-density initiatives.
- 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.
- 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).