9 January 2024

New Province of BC Housing Policies

The Province of BC’s recently announced policies to address the housing shortage will require municipalities throughout BC to adapt their infrastructure plans and design criteria for higher-density housing. The new legislation targets two key areas:

  1. Small-scale, multi-unit housing(SSMUH): As mandated in legislative requirements laid out in the Province of BC Policy Manual and Site Standards for SSMUH. The Province’s legislation would allow development of nearly all residential single-family lots overriding existing municipal zoning.  Generally, single-family lots will be developable to include three or four-dwelling units depending on lot size. Single-family lots within 400m of a frequent bus stop are developable into six dwelling units.
  2. Transit-oriented development areas(TOA): As mandated in legislative requirements laid out in the Province of BC Policy Manual and Site Standards for TOA.  This legislation requires higher density zoning (FSR 3.0 to 5.0; 8 to 20 storeys) within 800 m of Skytrain stations and within 400 m of bus exchanges (FSR of 1.5 to 4.0; 4 to 12 storeys). Each municipality with a designated transit node must designate TOAs by bylaw and are encouraged to develop servicing plans for these TOAs.

The timing of the legislation is aggressive with requirements to implement bylaws by 30 Jun 2024.

Water infrastructure impacts for municipalities are potentially extensive depending on current planning / zoning for densification (compared to the new provincial legislation requirements) and the available capacity in existing infrastructure.  Water infrastructure areas to address include:

  • Updating design requirements to mitigate higher density fire flow requirements including considering sprinklering requirements for SSMUH for instance.
  • Establishing design criteria for fire flow requirements (SSMUH)
  • Establishing appropriate design criteria for water and sewer loading for higher density residential development
  • Evaluation of capacity of key drinking water supply and sanitary sewer collection facilities (water pump stations, reservoirs, sanitary sewer lift stations)
  • Developing or updating servicing plans targeted for TOAs including hydraulic analyses with higher water demands and sewer loads
  • Updating of municipal water and sewer master plans to address new loads
  • Consideration of impacts on drainage systems / storm sewers
  • Coordination with other municipal departments (planning, development) to implement regulations to mitigate impacts on water infrastructure
  • Coordination with regional partners for water and sewer servicing
  • Updating of DCC’s to cover new infrastructure requirements and in some cases considering area-specific DCC’s (to cover TOAs)