VICTORIA – The Government of British Columbia is introducing legislation to speed up delivery of homes and push towards more communities near transit hubs.
Earlier in the year, as part of the 2023 budget, B.C. committed approximately $400 million to deliver thousands of units at or near transit over the next 10 to 15 years by accessing land that is suitable to be acquired near transit hubs and transforming it into communities, a release said.
“Building more homes near transit is good for people, communities, and helps make the most of transit, infrastructure and services. But layers of regulations and outdated rules are stopping this kind of development from becoming a reality in too many municipalities. That’s why we are taking action to remove barriers and deliver more transit-oriented communities, faster,” said B.C. Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon in a statement.
The proposed legislation will require municipalities to designate Transit Oriented Development Areas (TOD Areas) near transit hubs, defined as land within 800 metres of a rapid transit station and within 400 metres of a bus exchange where passengers transfer from one route to another.
In the designated areas municipalities will be required to permit housing developments that meet provincial standards for allowable height and density based on tiers — at its highest in the centre of the TOD Area – and will differ based on the type of transit hub.
They must also remove restrictive parking minimums and allow for parking to be determined by need and demand on a project-by-project basis.
Municipalities will still be able to require builders and developers to add parking to accommodate people living with disabilities. Commercial parking requirements will not be affected within TOD Areas, the release said. Builders and developers will be able to build as much parking as desired for a project but will not be required to meet a minimum standard of parking units.
The province will also create a provincial policy manual to support municipalities with setting their site standards and moving forward with proposed housing projects, which will be released along with regulations in December.
For remaining TOD Areas that require local government designation, municipalities will have until June 30, 2024, to designate these areas (pending regulation), the release said.
It is expected approximately 100 TOD Areas will be designated in approximately 30 municipalities throughout B.C. within the first year of the new legislation coming into effect.
“We’re working to leverage public lands to build more affordable housing in connected, livable communities. This legislation is the next step forward to help remove roadblocks and fast-track more transit-oriented development that works for people in their communities,” added B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming.