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Cariboo Regional District to adjust bylaws for higher density housing

The CRD and all other local governments must comply with new provincial legislation
Cariboo Regional District office in Williams Lake. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) is updating its zoning bylaws in order to align with provincial legislation intended to make it easier to develop higher-density housing in all B.C. communities.

Small scale multi-unit housing (SSMUH) will soon permitted in all rural zones in the Cariboo.

The proposed amendments discussed at the May 24 meeting will be to the Williams Lake fringe and 150 Mile House area zoning bylaws, Quesnel Fringe Area zoning bylaw and South Cariboo area zoning bylaw. In addition to bringing the CRD’s bylaws into compliance with the new provincial legislation, the amendments will also provide clarification that a minimum of one secondary suite within a single-family home is permitted within any designated restricted zone, noted the CRD in a news release.

Secondary suites within a single-family dwelling will still be required to comply with the existing zoning standards for sitting and size, as well as with the BC Building Code requirements, added the CRD.

Local governments such as the CRD are required to update their zoning bylaws to permit the prescribed minimum SSMUH densities on single-family and duplex lots.

According to B.C.’s Provincial Policy Manual & Site Standards, SSMUH refers to a range of buildings and dwelling unit configurations that can provide more affordable and attainable housing for middle-income families. Examples of SSMUH include secondary suites in single-family dwellings; detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs), like garden suites or laneway homes; duplexes (side-by-side or up/down); triplexes and house-plexes; and townhomes.

The government is introducing SSMUH requirements because single-family detached homes are unaffordable for many people in B.C. However, zoning regulations that exclusively permit single-family detached homes often cover 70-85 per cent of the privately held residential land base in communities.

“Not only are less expensive multi-unit forms of housing not permitted in most areas of our communities, but they are also subjected to more layers of process and regulations like rezoning and design requirements,” noted the B.C. policy.

“Rezoning requirements add considerable costs to projects and create uncertainty for those interested in building homes in our communities. When combined with long development application processing timelines, these factors impede the supply of much-needed market housing that is more affordable than conventional single-family homes.”

The government is now requiring local governments to permit multiple units of housing (two to six units depending on the location and context) on single-family and duplex lots without the need for rezoning processes.

The aim of the SSMUH legislation is to increase housing supply, create more diverse housing choices, and over time, contribute to more affordable housing.

The CRD adopted comprehensive bylaw amendments in 2018 which allowed accessory dwelling units in all residential and rural zones. Some special exception zones were not included in these amendments and were then classified as restricted zones by the new housing legislation. There are around 50 to 60 areas that are considered a restricted zone.

The bylaw amendments draft will be provided to the CRD board at the June 20 meeting.

Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

I began my journalism career in daily and weekly newspapers in Alberta.
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