More small-scale, multi-unit homes coming to B.C., zoning barriers removed

Media Contacts

Jimmy Smith

Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier

Ministry of Housing

Media Relations
236 478-0251


What people are saying about new housing regulations
Updated Nov. 1, 2023

Dean Murdock, mayor of Saanich –

“Single-family homes are largely out of reach for many people looking to buy or rent in Saanich. These proposed changes help create more housing choices that meet the needs of individuals and families in the community today, and in the future. This will allow people to put down roots in Saanich — where they can build a life in neighbourhoods that are close to schools, parks and shops and feel connected to their community.”

Vickey Brown, mayor of Cumberland –

“The new housing legislation is a significant step forward in addressing our housing challenges. By introducing small-scale, multi-unit housing options and rectifying outdated zoning rules, more diverse housing opportunities are created for our communities. Building density in a single-family zoning not only allows property owners to generate more income from their properties, it also provides additional housing, while keeping infrastructure costs down for local governments. We have had good success with most of these measures in our community thus far.

Marianne Alto, mayor of Victoria –

“The city welcomes the introduction of provincial standards setting a baseline for small-scale, multi-unit housing for people, particularly town homes, row homes and triplexes. Victoria has already established its own ambitious housing allowances, and I’m confident that this new legislation will complement and fortify local governments’ push to add more homes to our badly needed housing supply.”

Ken Sim, mayor of Vancouver –

“We have said getting homes built in Vancouver will take an all-hands-on-deck approach. That’s why we’re so excited to support the Province’s latest initiative to get more homes built for the people who need them. The City of Vancouver has already streamlined zoning across our city, while reducing permit approval timelines to unlock more housing in every corner of Vancouver, which is why this new legislation from the Province – focused on delivering more small-scale, multi-unit housing for individuals and families – is another step in the right direction.”

Neil Moody, CEO, Canadian Home Builders’ Association British Columbia (CHBA BC) –

“Today's housing crisis can't be solved by approving the thousands of homes we need with the same outdated zoning and approval processes. The legislation introduced today will make it easier and more predictable for CHBA BC home builders to work with local governments to speed up the approval process and increase the variety of housing choices in our growing neighbourhoods.”

Jens von Bergmann, Mountain Math –

“The Province is taking a big step with this new legislation. This opens up low density areas to more housing and normalizes more diverse types of housing to creating more vibrant and resilient communities. Through our analysis, we project this will create substantial net new homes over the next 10 years, enabling more housing options, and increasing the overall amount of housing people need to stay in their communities, form families more freely and generally improve housing outcomes.”

Amy Nugent, executive director, Urbanarium –

“It is clear that any solution to the housing crisis must include increasing supply. Existing single-family house areas must be part of the densifying strategy to increase supply. To have a density strategy for single-family zones that will move from policy to results on the ground will require simplifying regulations to improve permitting speed and reduce cost.”

Jake Fry, founder and principle, Smallworks –

“In our experience, building hundreds of infill homes, we’ve witnessed firsthand the need for diverse housing options, as well as the positive impact better options can have for families across the Province. This legislation is the type of bold move that will evolve our single-family neighbourhoods and make housing attainable for more British Columbians.”

Julian West, founder, Urban Thrive –

“Small builders and developers have long struggled to jump through all the municipal zoning hoops to build townhouses, houseplexes, and other kinds of multi-family housing, which we so desperately need. These changes finally provide a pathway that will see this type of housing built in a meaningful way.”

Duncan Wlodarczak, chair, Urban Land Institute British Columbia –

“B.C.’s urban areas face an acute housing shortage. These places would also benefit from allowing more people to live close to frequent transit, as well as urban amenities, thereby facilitating a lower-carbon lifestyle. Enabling secondary units and multi-plex housing as-of-right on existing lots will help British Columbians create more homes, faster, and thereby improve our communities.”

Nick Petrie, business development, Phase One Design –

“With my extensive professional experience across numerous projects in the industry, I support the proposed gentle density change. Having spoken to families regularly, the challenge of providing multi-generational living that could accommodate aging family members or provide private residences to their children is evident. Overall, I believe this will be a major improvement in everyone's quality of life.”

Houssam Elokda, managing principal, Happy Cities –

“To solve the housing crisis, we need a provincewide effort to build more diverse housing options, both market and non-market. Legalizing multi-unit housing everywhere is an important first step toward creating healthy, walkable, connected and resilient communities. By building more homes near transit, we will make it easier and more affordable for people to access jobs and services — without needing to own a car.”

Kelly Reid, owner, HKR Builders – 

“I believe this proposed legislation is a positive step forward. This will help builders work through the local government process to get more homes of all types built. It should provide local governments a clear path forward to meet local housing needs.” 

Carolyn Whitzman, adjunct professor and expert advisor to Housing Assessment Resource Tools project, University of Ottawa –

“B.C. is at the forefront of provinces and territories when it comes to enabling and increasing housing supply for people. It’s exciting to see such forward-thinking action being taken, like transit-oriented zoning near frequent bus service, to build the right kinds of homes in the areas they are urgently needed.”

Lauren van den Berg, president and CEO, Mortgage Professionals Canada –

“We commend the work that Premier Eby and the B.C. government are doing to play a leadership role in addressing the housing crisis. This legislation is another important step to increase housing supply that, combined with a focus on affordability, will help more British Columbians achieve the dream of home ownership.”

Media Contacts

Ministry of Housing

Media Relations
236 478-0251
Facts about more homes for people
  • Budget 2023 supports the Homes for People action plan, starting with more than $4 billion over three years and a commitment to invest $12 billion over the next 10 years to deliver more homes for people, faster.
  • This investment builds on the government's $7 billion commitment from 2018.
  • The Province is on track to deliver 108,000 homes completed or underway by 2027-28 with tens of thousands of more homes to come through policy changes such as this.
  • This legislation is part of the Province’s Homes for People Action Plan.
  • Building on major new investments to build affordable housing in the last five years and measures to reduce speculation and protect people in an overheated housing market.
  • Homes for People tackles persistent permitting and zoning challenges, facilitating the delivery of the housing people want and need, faster.
  • The plan unlocks more homes by creating the conditions to encourage faster housing construction, reduce barriers to affordable housing and accelerate the construction of new homes by supporting a more effective and efficient approvals process, and a focus on targeted types of housing.
  • Homes for People also delivers more housing people can afford to rent or buy, including more homes within reach for first-time homebuyers, and protects renters.
  • It supports those who need it the most with more housing for those experiencing homelessness and helps more people afford to find a place to call home.
  • The Local Government Development Approvals Program (LGDAP) is an application-based grant fund managed by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) created in 2021.
  • LGDAP grants support local government-initiated projects to implement best practices and test innovative approaches to improve their development approval processes.
  • Actions in the plan also aim to build a housing market that puts people ahead of profit with measures to crack down on speculators and profiteers and get the proceeds of crime out of the real estate market.

Media Contacts

Ministry of Housing

Media Relations
236 478-0251
Legislation introduced to increase housing supply

The Province has introduced new legislation to increase the supply of attainable housing for people in B.C. and get more homes built faster. The legislation and forthcoming regulations have two components, both of which aim to reduce the number of local government rezonings by shifting the local planning and land use framework to emphasize up-front planning and zoning.

The first component includes requirements for all local governments to enable small-scale multi-unit housing by requiring they update zoning bylaws to:

  • allow a minimum of one secondary suite or detached accessory dwelling unit/ADU (laneway home) in all single-family/duplex residential zones with exceptions;
  • allow a minimum of three to four dwelling units (depending on lot size) in select areas zoned exclusively for single-family residential or duplex residential, in selected areas, with exceptions;
    • The prescribed size of lot is intended to be 280 square metres. This means lots less than 280 square metres would have a minimum of three permitted units, lots greater than 280 square metres would have a minimum of four permitted units.
  • Allow a minimum of six dwelling units in select areas zoned for larger single-family residential lots or duplex residential lots within a prescribed distance to transit stops with frequent service, in selected areas.

The proposed legislation for three to four or six units is intended to apply on parcels of land in British Columbia that fall within urban containment boundaries and municipalities over 5,000 people. The secondary suite or detached accessory dwelling unit requirement would be legislation that would apply throughout B.C.

The second component requires that:

  • All local governments: Update housing needs reports (HNR) using a standard method, for a more consistent, robust understanding of local housing needs over 20 years;
  • Municipalities: Plan for and engage communities on these needs in official community plans (OCP), updated every five years to reflect the most recent HNR so communities can plan together;
  • Municipalities: Align zoning bylaws with the OCP and HNR to pre-zone for the 20-year total amount of housing their communities need; and
  • All local governments: Eliminate redundant processes and one-off public hearings that slow down housing projects that already fit with community plans, and instead make best use of more frequent opportunities for people to be involved in shaping their communities earlier in the processes.   
  • Vancouver: The Vancouver Charter does not include the same OCP framework that the Local Government Act does. This means that the zoning stage is often the only time community members can directly engage with their council. The Province is working with the City of Vancouver to explore how the changes to the public hearings process could apply to Vancouver.

Parts of the legislation would come immediately into force following royal assent, with other parts brought into force when applicable regulations are passed. A chronological timeline of key dates for when local governments will be provided with a policy implementation manual to support these initiatives, and then expected to comply with the legislation is provided below.

  • December 2023 – SSMUH policy manual and site standards provided to local governments.
  • January 2024 – HNR instructions provided to local governments.
  • January/February 2024 – Details announced for $51 million funding allocation.
  • June 30, 2024 – Local governments must have updated their bylaws to accommodate SSMUH requirements
  • June/July 2024 – OCP/zoning review/update instructions provided to municipalities.
  • Jan. 1, 2025 (date subject to regulation) – Local governments must have completed their interim HNR.
  • Dec. 31, 2025 (date subject to regulation) – Municipalities must have completed their first review and update of their OCPs and zoning bylaws (based on interim HNR).

Media Contacts

Ministry of Housing

Media Relations
236 478-0251