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B.C. tables law to boost housing development around transit

B.C. tables law to boost housing development around transit
PROVINCE OF B.C. — A pedestrian prepares to board a bus in B.C. The province is proposing changes to its laws that would allow for more transit-oriented development.

VICTORIA — B.C.’s Transportation Act is getting updates that are intended to boost housing near transit stations.

The province announced it has introduced changes that will empower the BC Transportation Financing Authority to obtain land to build housing and community amenities near any stations or exchanges.

The changes, which are part of Bill 16, were tabled earlier this month by Rob Fleming, minister of transportation.

“Public transit isn’t just about getting people from A to B, it’s also about building greener and more liveable communities,” said Fleming. “We will increase the level of affordable housing and services that are integrated into our significant investments in transit.”

The current act only allows the financing authority to purchase land for transportation projects, not transit-related development. The province stated this has made it challenging to shape growth around station sites, increase housing density and help create complete, connected communities close to transit.

Officials stated Bill 16 will allow housing to be built in mixed-use developments, along with child care centres, shops and commercial services, schools and health care centres, educational facilities, public gathering spaces and recreation centres.

The province stated these transit-oriented developments are typically located within an 800-metre radius of transit stations, the outside distance from which people can easily access public transit by walking, pedalling or using a mobility device.

The province added the BC Transportation Financing Authority will be able to deliver these projects by working with local governments and a broad range of partners to achieve liveable, transit-supportive communities.

Officials explained housing developments near transit hubs have been proven to increase transit ridership. For example, the Marine Gateway housing and amenities development near Cambie Street and Southwest Marine Drive contributed to a 35 per cent increase in ridership at the Marine Drive transit station.

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