B.C. Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

B.C. to give municipalities final say over rental zoning

City halls will be required to provide housing needs assessment

Local governments are getting the additional powers they asked for to require construction of more rental housing, Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson says.

Legislation presented by the B.C. government Tuesday would give municipal councils authority to require a share of undeveloped land to be reserved for rentals. Redevelopment of rental properties would also be subject to replacement by new rental, but the rental share would be up to the local government.

Robinson said the changes respond to requests from local governments for stronger zoning tools to increase rental stock. In urban communities such as Metro Vancouver, the market produces mostly either single-family homes or compact condos for sale, she said.

“This will prevent rentals from being torn down so they can be redeveloped into luxury condos that only a few people can afford,” Robinson said. 

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The province isn’t changing regulation of rent, but Robinson said increasing the rental supply is expected to stabilize rents that have soared in communities with near-zero rental vacancy rates.

Another legislative change requires local governments to collect data on housing types to use for land use planning. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said larger communities such as the Capital Regional District are already doing this, planning for 20 years out.

CRD plans indicate that the South Island region will need more than 34,000 additional rental units over the next 20 years, Helps said. Giving regions the authority to do the data collection and planning means smaller communities don’t have to do it on their own.

Helps said it is important for councils to work with the development industry on expanded rental construction, rather than imposing new quotas on them.

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