Bill 44 Housing Statutes (Residential Development) Amendment Act now in force

Authors: Jennifer Williams and Anna Schlagintweit

A new regulation in B.C. sets the minimum number of housing units allowed on each parcel of land in single-family zones – with higher density near bus stops to encourage public transit use.

On December 7, 2023, Sections 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 15, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25 and 47 of Bill 44 Housing Statutes (Residential Development) Amendment Act, 2023, S.B.C. 2023, c. 45 were brought into force by Order in Council No. 673. Additionally, a local government zoning bylaw regulation (the Bylaw) was made.

The Bylaw prescribes, among other things, the minimum number of housing units required to be permitted on each parcel of land in those areas zoned for single-family homes, based on the parcel size. The Bylaw provides that if land that is at least 281 square metres in size is located within 400 metres of certain bus stops, at least six housing units must be permitted. The Bylaw provides the minimum density requirements prescribed under Section 481.3(4) and (5) of the Local Government Act (British Columbia) (the Act) do not apply to land that is located within a transit-oriented area.

Exception for hazardous condition

The Bylaw provides for an exception to the minimum density requirements where (i) the subject land is subject to a hazardous condition; (ii) the increased density as permitted under the Act would significantly increase the threat or risk from the hazardous condition; and (iii) the threat or risk from such hazardous condition cannot practically be mitigated. In order for such exception to apply, the municipality must obtain a report from a qualified professional certifying each of the foregoing conditions.

Generally, land that is subject to a hazardous condition includes, without limitation, land that may be subject to flooding, mud flows, torrents of debris, erosion, land slip, rock falls, subsidence, tsunami, avalanche or wildfire (see Section 491(2) of the Act).

If you are a developer in B.C. wondering how these legislative developments may impact you, contact the authors to connect with a member of our Vancouver real estate practice group.

The MLT Aikins real estate practice group is here to assist with all real estate and development matters, including matters involving real estate litigation.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible regulatory requirements, legal rights or remedies. Laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances. These materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.