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  • Writer's pictureSam Tabrizi

Three Key Bills Passed in 2023 Transforming BC Housing Legislation.

The reported goals of the BC Government 1. Reducing red tape and creating more small-scale, multi-unit homes

3. Reducing redundant public hearings

4. Building more affordable housing

5. Planning for long-term housing needs

6. Better understanding of certain costs

In the ever-evolving landscape of urban development, three significant bills have emerged, each poised to reshape the way we think about housing. These bills, passed under the umbrella of the Housing Statutes Amendment Act of 2023, aim to address pressing issues such as housing affordability, development financing, and transit-oriented growth. Let's delve into the intricacies of each bill and understand their potential implications:

Housing Statutes (Residential Development) Amendment Act, 2023:

At the heart of this bill lies the goal of fostering the creation of small-scale, multi-unit housing. By amending zoning bylaws, the legislation paves the way for the development of three or four residential units on single-family or duplex lots, and up to six units on larger lots in close proximity to public transit. Crucially, it mandates that zoning bylaws accommodate secondary suites or laneway homes, promoting densification within existing urban areas.

One of the notable provisions of this bill is the phase-out of public hearings for projects that align with Official Community Plans (OCPs). This strategic move aims to streamline the development process while ensuring that housing requirements outlined in OCPs are met. Additionally, the bill emphasizes the importance of updating OCPs every five years, ensuring that housing needs are addressed proactively for the next two decades.

Housing Statutes (Development Financing) Amendment Act, 2023:

This bill seeks to provide developers with greater financial certainty by establishing Amenity Cost Charges (ACCs) upfront. Similar to Community Amenity Contributions (CACs), ACCs are intended to assist with the capital costs of providing amenities that benefit developments. Unlike CACs, however, ACCs are predetermined and not subject to negotiation during the rezoning stage, offering developers clarity and predictability in their financial planning.

Notably, ACCs may be reduced or waived for affordable housing projects, underscoring the government's commitment to promoting housing affordability. By shifting the scope of Development Cost Charges (DCCs) and Development Cost Levies (DCLs), municipalities can better align development financing with community needs, ensuring that new developments contribute to the overall well-being of the community.

3. Housing Statutes (Transit-Oriented Areas) Amendment Act, 2023:

Transit-oriented development (TOD) has emerged as a key strategy for promoting sustainable urban growth. This bill focuses on generating developments near major transit hubs by designating Transit-Oriented Areas (TOAs) and implementing specific zoning requirements. By removing minimum parking requirements, the legislation encourages compact, mixed-use developments that prioritize pedestrian and transit accessibility.

TOAA amendments set out minimum requirements for TODs, taking into account proximity to various types of transit and the metro area. Height and density requirements diminish with distance from a TOD Area, reflecting a nuanced approach to urban planning that balances density with livability. By promoting transit-oriented growth, this bill not only enhances mobility options but also reduces carbon emissions and promotes vibrant, walkable communities.

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