Bill 46: A new and expanded development financing framework in British Columbia

Authors: Jennifer Williams and Anna Schlagintweit

Introduced as part of the provincial government’s housing strategy, Bill 46 aims to streamline the delivery of homes, services and infrastructure in high-growth communities.

On November 30, 2023, Bill 46: Housing Statutes (Development Financing) Amendment Act, 2023 (“Bill 46”) received royal assent. The Bill proposes several changes to the Local Government Act, RSBC 2015, c 1, and the Vancouver Charter, SBC 1953, c 55 which are anticipated to impact how local governments plan for and finance development in their jurisdictions. Below is a summary of key changes under Bill 46.

Amenity cost charges

Bill 46 introduces amenity cost charges (“ACCs”) as a new development financing tool to help local governments cover increased capital costs associated with providing or altering amenities to benefit a development and any associated increase in population of residents or workers.

Among other things, Bill 46 provides that ACCs may be imposed by bylaw, subject to public consultation, and requires local governments to prospectively adopt bylaws imposing ACCs based on location, land use, density or other objective qualities within their jurisdiction. Bill 46 also imposes reporting obligations on local governments that collect ACCs.

This represents a shift from the current model of determining community amenity contributions. Until Bill 46 comes into force, such charges are determined on a case-by-case basis through negotiations between the municipality and the developer during the rezoning process, often on a site-specific basis. These negotiations can be lengthy and full of uncertainty, and lead to construction delays and result in significant additional costs for developers. The shift is intended to provide more efficiency and transparency in development financing, as well as more certainty for developers and homeowners regarding development costs, which will ultimately lead to the delivery of more homes, faster.

Expanded scope of development cost charges and development cost levies

Bill 46 also expands the purposes for which development cost charges (“DCCs”) (under the Local Government Act) or development cost levies (“DCLs”) (under the Vancouver Charter), may be imposed to include fire protection, police, solid waste and recycling facilities.

Like ACCs, DCCs and DCLs are development financing tools to help local governments cover costs associated with increased demands on core infrastructure and services to benefit a development and any associated increase in population of residents or workers.

The expanded scope of DCCs and DCLs is intended to enable municipalities to better address the impacts of development on their service delivery and infrastructure capacity.

Bill 46 also clarifies that local governments can collect DCCs and DCLs to fund provincial highway infrastructure, such as interchanges and overpasses, if certain conditions are met, including that the highway supports the development and there is a cost-sharing arrangement between the province and the municipality.

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. Our experienced team can help you navigate the rezoning process and better understand your obligations under the amendments implemented by Bill 46.

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.