Single-family only zoning to be removed in B.C.’s housing plan

Single-family only zoning to be removed in B.C.'s housing plan
B.C. Premier David Eby announcing housing measures with the goal of addressing affordability.

The B.C. government has unveiled its housing plan to address affordability, and one of the four pillars is a plan to allow up to four units on all current single-family zoned lots.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said the zoning change is expected to be introduced in the legislature in the fall.

“This means no more long zoning processes just to build a duplex and triplex or a row home,” Kahlong said. “Without more of these types of homes we risk pushing more of our next generation out of this province, we risk creating neighbourhoods where playgrounds are quiet, sidewalks are empty and coffee shops are empty.”

Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto noted this plan is similar to the Missing Middle Initiative that the city brought in earlier this year.

“The city, as you well know, finally adopted its own missing middle strategies and policies just earlier this year in late January,” Alto said.

“We’re pleased to see what the province has put forward as the expectations. Our expectations are actually a little bit higher, and so we do have some different numbers that actually challenge our own residents to be really, really bold and really provocative and in what they can create.”

READ MORE: Missing Middle Housing Initiative passes in vote by Victoria council

The housing plan is expected to cost over $4 billion over three years, and $12 billion over the next 10 years.

Premier David Eby says the housing plan is ambitious to tackle the growing housing crisis.

“Finding a decent place where you can actually afford to live is a challenge for too many British Columbians, in fact, it has become a crisis,” Eby said.

“There are too many people for example, in their 20s and 30s who are still living with their parents and you can ask anyone who is scrolling through rental listings on Craigslist or who is going to open houses looking for a place they might be able to buy, it’s tough out there. Even people making a good income are struggling to find a place to live.”

The three other pillars of the plan are to deliver more homes through building more social housing units and post-secondary on-campus housing, supporting people with the greatest housing needs by having more homes for people experiencing homelessness and new actions to close encampments, and clamping down on speculators through bringing in a flipping tax and stricter enforcement on short-term rentals.

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In the province’s housing plan, it says it aims to build 114,000 houses by 2028. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation put out a report in June 2022 that showed B.C. has to build 570,000 homes by 2030 in order to address affordability.

Karin Kirkpatrick, BC Liberal shadow minister for housing, says the announcement today doesn’t go far enough to address affordability issues.

“British Columbians know that housing affordability continues to worsen on his government’s watch, and they are tired of waiting for action,” Kirkpatrick said. “Unfortunately, this supposedly new housing plan, which contains mostly previously announced or delayed commitments and carefully crafted messaging to hide the NDP’s glacial progress, is anything but refreshing.”

Adam Olsen, BC Green Party MLA for Saanich North, says there are some good promises in the plan but it lacks details.

“At face value, the pilot financial incentive program for secondary suites, the flipping tax, and the promise of better regulation for short-term rentals, are policies that we need to explore,” Olsen said. “However, the BC NDP have not provided enough detail for us to evaluate the impact of these policies.”

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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