Provincial Density Bylaw Changes: What You Need to Know

British Columbia is implementing new legislation by fall of 2025 aimed at increasing the availability of small-scale, multi-unit housing. These changes will impact zoning rules to make it easier to build townhomes, multiplexes, and laneway houses across the province. Here's a summary of the key points and how they affect different areas:

Key Changes to Zoning Rules
Secondary Suites and Laneway Homes: The new legislation will allow for one secondary suite or one laneway home (accessory dwelling unit) in all communities throughout B.C.

Increased Density:
In municipalities with more than 5,000 people, bylaws will be updated to permit three to four units on lots currently zoned for single-family or duplex use, depending on lot size.
Larger lots near transit stops with frequent service will be allowed up to six units.
Expedited Approvals: The legislation aims to streamline and speed up the local housing development approval process by requiring municipalities to update community plans and zoning bylaws regularly. Public hearings for rezonings that align with official community plans will be phased out.

Local Government Support: The province will provide resources to help local governments meet the new density zoning requirements, including $51 million to support local updates and $10 million for the Local Government Development Approvals Program.

Impact on Specific Areas:
Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) and Gibsons are both currently exempt from these changes as they fall below the population threshold of 5,000 residents. Although Sechelt meets the population requirement, it must apply for specific exemptions. This means Sechelt needs to actively seek exemption status by June 30th, 2024 to avoid mandatory compliance with the new regulations. Additionally, water shortages have already impacted development in Sechelt, making it crucial to address water infrastructure before increasing housing density.

These zoning changes are designed to address B.C.'s housing crisis by increasing housing availability and diversity, with the intent to make it easier and quicker to build multi-unit homes. While areas like SCRD and Gibsons are currently exempt due to their smaller populations, Sechelt must navigate the new rules and apply for exemptions if necessary. We''ll help keep you informed about these changes as they evolve so you can make better decisions and adapt to the evolving housing landscape. For more information about these provincial changes click here: