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B.C. Government Introduces Bill Encouraging Creation of More Housing Near Transit Hubs

The province has introduced legislation it estimates could provide up to 100,000 new homes near designated transit areas over the next decade.

The B.C. government says the proposed legislation is aimed at encouraging communities to build housing in areas designated as transit hubs.

Those areas are defined as land within 800 metres of a rapid transit station, and within 400 metres of a bus exchange where passengers transfer from one service to another.

It’s among a series of housing-related bills introduced this fall by the B.C. New Democrat government to tackle what has become a crisis of housing affordability and availability, including bills aimed at limiting short-term rentals and requiring local governments to allow multi-unit buildings on lots typically used for detached homes.

Premier David Eby says the government is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to the problem.

He says outdated municipal zoning rules discourage development of multi-unit buildings on city lots, while the expansion of short-term accommodations cuts back on the long-term rental stock.

The B.C. NDP government also tabled proposed legislation to help local governments and housing developers establish which amenities — such as parks and daycares — can be expected to be part of new developments.

Creating housing near transit stops has been a big priority of municipal governments across B.C., including Vancouver, where city council has directed staff to cut red tape around building houses near SkyTrain stations.

“Investing in homes near transit hubs aligns with our shared vision for a sustainable future,” said Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim in a quote shared by the government. 

“We look forward to working with the province to implement these new regulations in a thoughtful way.”

Affordable housing is important for people’s well-being and a necessity for a prosperous economy, Bridgitte Anderson, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade CEO, said in a statement.

“Providing clarity and prioritizing the construction of housing near transit hubs will benefit people, businesses, and the environment,” she said.

Mayors’ council asks for more transit funding

Opposition B.C. United Leader Kevin Falcon says the government’s legislation appears rushed and desperate, and he compared the plan to “throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks.”

The TransLink Mayors’ Council — which oversees regional transit in Metro Vancouver and regularly pushes for more funding from higher levels of government — said it welcomed the new legislation.

However, it said in a statement that transit-oriented development wouldn’t succeed without significant investment in new transit projects.

“With transit in Metro Vancouver currently frozen at 2019 levels, we need to see both the provincial and federal governments commit funding to dramatically expand public transit service,” said Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, chair of the Mayors’ Council.

“This legislation represents one of the most significant changes to land use and zoning policy that we’ve ever seen in this province, but it won’t succeed unless our three levels of government work together to deliver better transit in this region.”

A similar call for funding was echoed at a local level by Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.

“These regulations will help guide local governments in making responsible urban development decisions that prioritize transit access and minimize environmental impacts,” she said in a statement.

“We urge the B.C. government to ensure that there is adequate funding for enhanced transit services in Surrey.”

The legislation, if passed, will see B.C. municipalities given an implementation framework by early December.

Transit-oriented development areas would be identified by the end of July next year, and municipalities would be expected to make changes to their zoning laws to accommodate the new regulations.

Source : CBC