Politics

B.C. Premier Eby announces transit-oriented housing density plan

The premier said a panel of noted economists has modelled the plan to show B.C. could have up to 293,000 net new housing units by 2034

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B.C. Premier David Eby has announced a road map for how the province can deliver 250,000 more homes in the next decade, including through sweeping changes in zoning bylaws that municipalities must pass in the new year.

Eby — talking to a group of business and government leaders at a B.C. Chamber of Commerce event Thursday — said the Housing Ministry convened a panel of economists to do modelling on the initiatives introduced in the legislature this year, showing how a quarter million new homes can be built across B.C. in the next 10 years.

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By analyzing examples from places like New Zealand and Washington state that have recently introduced zoning changes along the same lines as B.C.’s proposal, the panel found anywhere from 216,000 to 293,000 net new housing units could be built in B.C. by 2034.

“Over the fall session, our government passed comprehensive laws to deliver more homes for people faster — in every part of B.C.,” said Eby in a prepared statement. “We are in a housing crisis, and we will continue to take strong action to deliver thousands more middle-class homes families can afford.”

Some municipalities are already on track to meet the B.C. government's new five-year housing targets while others have a long way to go
The government will look to update zoning bylaws allowing either a minimum of one secondary suite or detached unit, a minimum of three to four dwelling units, or a minimum of six dwelling units in selected areas near bus stops with frequent transit service. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

Among recent government housing initiatives are Bill 35, restricting short-term rentals to free up more long-term rentals and homes on the market; a new statute, Bill 44, that requires municipalities to expand their housing stock; and another, Bill 47, that creates more than 100 zones focused on transit-oriented housing development.

Eby said local governments and First Nations now have been given detailed manuals and technical resources to support that ambitious housing plan.

Among the demands of local governments is to come up with updated zoning bylaws allowing either a minimum of one secondary suite or detached unit, a minimum of three to four dwelling units, or a minimum of six dwelling units in selected areas near bus stops with frequent transit service.

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Andy Yan, a city planning expert at Simon Fraser University, said he has no objection to the proposals, but wonders whether reality won’t be able to match the lofty ideas, including whether enough money will be available for the billions in infrastructure needed.

Among his concerns are the possibility that renters around existing transit hubs could be displaced, noting roughly one in three renters in Vancouver already live in transit-oriented development areas.

He also questions whether developers will be willing and able to buy and build all these multi-unit buildings if interest rates and inflation remain high, what he calls the “macroeconomic headwinds” that could slow progress.

He also notes some of the identified hubs are going to be much more desirable to those developers than others, which could spark speculation in some key areas and slow development in others.

“This is numbers and lines on a map,” said Yan. “How does this transition to (actual) housing?”

While he hopes to see it succeed, “It’s an initiative, but not necessarily a plan.”

Eby also scotched rumours Thursday that he might call an early election, acknowledging he had himself to blame for recently misstating that the province was “six months out” from voting day. He confirmed he intends to stick to the fixed election date in October 2024.

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More about the government’s housing plan can be found at news.gov.bc.ca.

Housing plan timeline

Dec. 7: Regulations for Bill 35, 44 and 47 released, along with interim designations of transit-oriented development areas and policies; and manuals on small-scale, multi-unit housing policy given to local governments.

January 2024: $51 million to be distributed to local governments to help meet provincial housing-density initiatives.

Early 2024: A report on housing needs guidance to be provided to local governments.

Feb. 29, 2024: Deadline for local governments to ask to opt out of the principal residence requirement.

May 1, 2024: Principal residence requirement takes effect, including defining exempt areas and types of accommodation; and the date short-term rental hosts must display a valid business licence on listings where local governments require one.

June-July 2024: Guidance to municipalities on updating official community plans and zoning bylaws.

June 30, 2024: Local governments must have designated transit-oriented development areas and multi-unit housing plans defined by bylaw; minimum residential parking requirements must also be removed (except where extensions have been asked for).

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Jan. 1, 2025: Local governments must have completed an interim housing needs report.

Dec. 31, 2025: Deadline for municipalities to update official community plans and zoning bylaws based on their housing needs report.

Vancouver downtown skyline
There is a possibility that renters around existing transit hubs could be displaced, noting roughly one in three renters in Vancouver already live in transit-oriented development areas, says one observer. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

Transit-oriented development areas

The NDP government has designated 104 areas in 31 municipalities as targets for transit-oriented development. Here’s the entire list, some of which are in effect immediately and some by mid-2024:

Vancouver

29th Avenue Station
Arbutus Station
Broadway – City Hall Station
Great Northern Way – Emily Carr Station
Joyce – Collingwood Station
King Edward Station
Langara – 49th Avenue Station
Marine Drive Station
Mount Pleasant Station
Nanaimo Station
Oak – VGH Station
Oakridge – 41st Avenue Station
Olympic Village Station
Renfrew Station
Rupert Station
South Granville Station
Stadium – Chinatown Station
VCC – Clark Station
Waterfront Station
Burrard Station*
Commercial – Broadway Station*
Dunbar Loop Exchange*
Granville Station*
Kootenay Loop Exchange*
Main Street – Science World Station*
Vancouver City Centre Station*
Yaletown – Roundhouse Station*

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Surrey

152nd Street Station
160th Street Station
166th Street Station
184th Street Station
190th Street Station
140th Street Station*
Gateway Station*
Guildford Mall Exchange*
King George Station*
Newton Exchange*
Scott Road Station*
Scottsdale Exchange*
Surrey Central Station*

Richmond

Aberdeen Station
Bridgeport Station
Capstan Station
Lansdowne Station
Richmond – Brighouse Station

Burnaby

Brentwood Town Centre Station
Lougheed Town Centre Station
Metrotown Station
Patterson Station
Sperling – Burnaby Lake Station
Edmonds Station*
Gilmore Station*
Holdom Station*
Lake City Way Station*
Production Way – University Station*
Royal Oak Station*

Langley (Township)

196th Street Station*

Langley (City)

203rd Street Station*
Langley Centre Exchange*

North Vancouver (District)

Phibbs Exchange45
Capilano University Exchange*

North Vancouver (City)

Lonsdale Quay Exchange*

Coquitlam

Burquitlam Station
Coquitlam Central Station
Lafarge Lake – Douglas Station
Lincoln Station

New Westminster

Columbia Station
New Westminster Station
22nd Street Station*
Braid Station*
Sapperton Station*

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Chilliwack

Downtown Chilliwack Exchange

Port Moody

Inlet Centre Station
Moody Centre Station

Port Coquitlam

Port Coquitlam Station*

Maple Ridge

Port Haney Station
Haney Place Exchange*
Maple Meadows Station*

Pitt Meadows

Pitt Meadows Station*

Mission

Mission City Station

Abbotsford

Bourquin Exchange*

Kamloops

Lansdowne Exchange
North Shore Exchange
TRU Exchange*

Kelowna

Okanagan College Exchange
Rutland Exchange
Orchard Park Exchange*
Hospital Exchange*

Vernon

Downtown Exchange*
Village Green Centre Exchange*

Penticton

Peachtree Square Exchange*
Penticton Plaza Exchange*

Victoria

Legislature Exchange

Saanich

Uptown Exchange
Royal Oak Exchange*
UVic Exchange*

Colwood

Colwood Exchange*

Langford

Langford Exchange*

View Royal

VGH Exchange*

Nanaimo

Country Club Exchange*
VIU Exchange*
Woodgrove Exchange*

Whistler

Gondola Exchange*

Prince George

UNBC Exchange*

* In effect on June 30, 2024

— Source: Government of B.C.

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