The province is making changes to expand its housing supply.
Photo by Jaana Björk
Province expanding housing supply under new premier
Published 1:06 PST, Mon November 21, 2022
Last Updated: 1:23 PST, Mon November 21, 2022
To help deliver more good homes for people, the province is introducing new laws to build the homes people need, make it possible for homes that are vacant to be rented, and remove discriminatory age and rental restrictions in stratas that hurt young families.
"B.C.'s housing crisis is stressing out and hurting people while it holds back our economy," said Premier David Eby. "As a first step in my 100-day plan, we are making changes to deliver more homes for British Columbians, faster. We will work with municipalities to set housing targets and make sure the homes people need get built. For those searching for a home today, there's good news. We're making it possible for thousands of condos that are vacant to be rented out as soon as these new laws pass. For those worried about the future, we're setting out a new way to co-ordinate the efforts of our cities and the province to build the homes people need quickly."
The first piece of legislation, the housing supply act, will help speed up housing development and increase supply by giving the province the power to set housing targets in municipalities with the greatest need and highest projected growth. Targets will be based on information provided by and in consultation with municipalities. The new housing targets will encourage municipalities to address local barriers to construction so that housing can get built faster, including updating zoning bylaws and streamlining local development approval processes.
"I had a good job lined up and even I had a hard time finding a home," said Omama Shoib, a health-care worker who moved from Alberta to Victoria. "We need more housing options across the board urgently. Some people aren't as lucky as I was and have to turn down job opportunities or schooling because they can't find suitable housing. I'm relieved the government is doing more to increase housing so people don't have to give up on pursuing their goals just because they can't find a place to live."
The province will monitor progress and work with municipalities to help address barriers to meeting housing targets and to support the increased community needs associated with targeted growth. The act enables compliance options as a last resort, should municipalities with the highest need struggle to create the conditions that are necessary to ensure housing gets built.
If passed, the housing supply act is scheduled to be brought into force in mid-2023. To support implementation, the province will continue to help local governments speed up local approval processes through the continued implementation of the Development Approvals Process Review and work underway to accelerate provincial approvals.
In addition, the province is making amendments to the Strata Property Act to end all strata rental-restriction bylaws and to limit age-restriction bylaws so that the only permitted age restriction is to preserve and promote seniors' housing through the "55 and over" rule in strata housing. Some buildings have "19-plus only" age restrictions that mean couples starting a family have to plan to move out as soon as they become pregnant. Stratas will be able to appear at the Residential Tenancy Branch to evict problem tenants and recover costs of those appearances.
"There's a lot of things on your mind when you are getting ready to start a family. It can be a very stressful time," said Sarah Arnold, an expectant mother and condo owner in Victoria. "The last thing you need to think about when you're preparing to welcome a newborn is finding a new place to live. These unjust age restrictions have hurt a lot of families, and I am pleased to see the province is taking action to make sure no more couples have to uproot their lives and leave their homes if they decide to start a family."
In areas where government has data through the Speculation and Vacancy Tax, there are approximately 2,900 empty condos that cannot be rented out because strata rules prevent them from renting out their condo, and government expects there are more empty units in strata buildings in other parts of the province. This amendment will enable owners to rent out these badly needed homes immediately. Government also expects that some owners in strata buildings would choose to rent out a room in their condo if they were given the opportunity to do so.
"Rules that prevent families with children from living in a home or prevent people from renting the unit they own are no longer acceptable in our current housing market," said Murray Rankin, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. "These amendments will open up more rental and homeownership options for people at a time when they're needed the most."
If approved, the changes to the Strata Property Act would take effect immediately. Bylaws restricting short-term rentals, such as AirBnBs, will continue to be allowed.
These actions are new steps to deliver homes in B.C., building on B.C.'s 10-year, $7-billion Homes for B.C. plan.
A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online: bchousing.org/homes-for-BC.
To learn about the steps the province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/housing.