The British Columbia government introduced legislation Wednesday it estimates could provide up to 100,000 new homes near designated transit areas over the next decade.
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said the proposed legislation is aimed at encouraging communities to build housing in areas it is calling transit hubs.
The legislation is among a series of housing-related bills introduced this fall by the New Democrat government to tackle what has become a crisis for the lack of housing and the high prices to rent or buy.
“We know housing affordability remains a challenge here in B.C.,” Kahlon said at a news conference after introducing the legislation. “Transit-oriented (development) is one critical way of making sure we get these homes built. It’s good for people. It’s good for communities, and it makes the most of the transit infrastructure and the services people need in their communities.”
Kahlon said the government needs to seize the moment to address the issues of housing affordability and too few homes.
The province recently introduced bills aimed at limiting short-term rentals to increase rental stock and to require local governments to allow multi-unit buildings on lots typically used for detached homes.
Outdated municipal zoning rules discourage development of multi-unit buildings on city lots, while the expansion of short-term accommodations cuts back on the long-term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 minister said.
The New Democrat government also tabled proposed legislation this week to help local governments and housing developers establish which amenities – such as parks and daycares – can be expected to be part of new developments.
Kahlon said the proposed transit legislation will require municipalities to designate transit oriented development areas in an effort to accelerate the building process.
“These areas are defined as land within 800 metres of rapid transit stations like SkyTrain stations, and within 400 metres of major bus exchanges where passengers transfer from one route to another,” Kahlon said.
Affordable housing is important for the well-being of people and a necessity for a prosperous economy, Bridgitte Anderson, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade CEO, said in a statement.
“The introduction of Bill 47, the latest in a suite of measures, is a bold but necessary step,” she said. “Providing clarity and prioritizing the construction of housing near transit hubs will benefit people, businesses, and the environment,” she said.
“Prioritizing growth in places that have good access to transit will ensure greater mobility and reduce congestion, while ensuring better overall livability.”
Opposition BC United Leader Kevin Falcon said the government’s legislation appears rushed and desperate, and he compared the plan to “throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks.”