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BC Supreme Court upholds city policy to preserve rental housing

BC Supreme Court upholds city policy to preserve rental housing
PROVINCE OF B.C. — The Supreme Court of B.C. has ruled in favour of the City of New Westminster's zoning practices intended to preserve rental housing.

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — The Supreme Court of B.C. has upheld a municipality’s zoning policy to preserve and increase rental housing supply.

The court decided in favour of New Westminster’s use of residential rental tenure zoning.

“Rental tenure zoning has been an important tool used to respond to the real challenge of saving existing purpose-built rental housing,” said Mayor Jonathan X. Coté in a media release. “We are pleased that the BC Supreme Court has upheld the city’s rental residential zoning powers so that we can preserve our rental housing stock and support our residents. We know that the housing crisis has been worsened by the pandemic and we are very committed protecting tenant rights.”

B.C. gave rental tenure authority to cities in 2018 so officials could protect rental tenures in existing buildings.

In 2019, New Westminster City Council adopted Zoning Amendment Bylaws No. 8078 and 8123, making it the first municipality in the province to apply the newly granted residential tenure zoning powers to some of its existing rental housing stock.

According to city officials, the strategy was meant to protect 200 households whose tenancies were not adequately covered by any of the other existing legislative tools found in the Local Government Act and the Community Charter.

City officials stated the plan is to continue using the residential rental tenure restrictions for six stratified rental properties. These units must remain rental-only and cannot be owner-occupied, whether wholly owned by one entity or as units that are separately sold and held by individual entities.

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