British Columbia is poised to embrace a future where homes and transit interconnect seamlessly, as new legislation is introduced to accelerate the creation of housing in the vicinity of transit hubs. Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing, announced the proposed law that will aim to strip away outdated regulations and streamline the development of transit-oriented communities.

In the face of a persistent housing crisis, this legislative move could mark a transformative shift toward more sustainable and community-centric urban planning. The focus is on not just constructing homes, but on fostering lively neighborhoods where amenities and services are just a short walk away from where people live and commute.

“If passed, this bill will remove barriers that have hindered development in many municipalities and pave the way for vibrant communities that maximize our transit infrastructure,” Minister Kahlon stated.

Leveraging a commitment of approximately $400 million from Budget 2023, the Province plans to utilize available land near transit hubs to spawn communities that are not only livable but affordable. Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, emphasized the intention behind the legislation to use public lands wisely and to expedite the development process.

The new legislation requires municipalities to establish Transit Oriented Development Areas (TOD Areas), within 800 meters of rapid transit and 400 meters of bus exchanges. These designated areas will be subject to provincial standards that dictate minimum heights and densities for new developments, varying according to the type of transit hub and the characteristics of the municipality.

Another groundbreaking aspect of the proposed law is the relaxation of parking requirements. Instead of rigid parking minimums, parking spaces can be tailored to the specific needs and demands of each project. However, accommodations for people with disabilities and commercial parking needs will remain unaltered within TOD Areas.

Projections suggest that this legislation could result in approximately 100,000 new housing units within these TOD Areas over the next decade. Although market fluctuations and unforeseen circumstances could impact this forecast, the initial analysis offers a promising outlook for housing availability in British Columbia.

A provincial policy manual is in the works to support local governments in aligning with the new standards and to ensure uniformity in the development of TOD Areas. With regulations and the policy manual set to be released in December 2023, municipalities will be expected to incorporate the designated TOD Areas into their community plans swiftly.

The proposed legislation also harmonizes with the Province’s ongoing small-scale, multi-unit housing initiative, ensuring that denser TOD Areas will take priority where overlaps occur.

This initiative is a part of the ambitious Homes for People action plan, introduced in spring 2023, which continues the government’s efforts since 2017 to address housing needs across the Province.

The legislation promises to redefine urban living in British Columbia, promoting accessibility, reducing reliance on cars, and contributing to the Province’s vision for sustainable development and community building.