BC Introduces Changes to Municipal Zoning

Changes are coming to the way local governments approach municipal zoning, care of recent housing legislation from the Province of BC. On November 1, the BC government announced changes to the Local Government Act aimed at making it easier to deliver so-called ‘missing middle’ housing units, such as townhouses, triplexes, and laneway homes, across the province.

The proposed legislation—and forthcoming regulations—allows for one secondary suite or one laneway home across all communities in BC.

In more densely populated regions—with municipalities of 5,000 people or more—the legislation will also require local governments to update their zoning bylaws to permit:

  • Three to four units on currently zone single-family lots (depending on lot size).
  • Six units permitted on larger lots, currently zoned for single-family or duplex use, and close to high-volume transit stops.

In addition, municipalities will be required to regularly update their community plans and zoning bylaws to ensure they’re keeping pace with housing demand. The legislation will also phase out one-off public hearings for housing rezoning requests, so long as they align with official community plans.

To help local governments expedite these bylaw changes, the provincial government has allocation $51 million, plus an additional $10 million for the Local Government Development Approval Program.

Despite jurisdictional concerns from some local governments, many municipalities appear to support the changes as they attempt to increase housing stock and improve affordability across regions.

For questions about this legislation and what it might mean for real estate development in the province, please contact Richard K. Uhrle or Susan Do.