Provincial legislation to increase housing supply

Project state

In November 2023, the Province of British Columbia introduced changes to the Local Government Act with the goal of increasing the speed and supply of new housing across BC. Municipalities, including the District of Central Saanich, are required to amend their Bylaws by June 30th, 2024, to align with the following changes: 

  • allowing more units of housing on most lots currently zoned for single family or duplexes inside the Urban Containment Boundary by June 30, 2024. 
  • allowing one Secondary Suite in all zones that permit single family, where 3-4 units do not apply, outside the Urban Containment Boundary by June 30, 2024. 
  • no public hearings (as of Jan 1, 2024) where housing development is consistent with the Official Community Plan 

To meet these requirements, staff recommend: 

Allowing a maximum of four units in residential areas and up to eight, based on lot size, along main corridors and within a 400m radius of Village Centres within the Urban Containment Boundary. 

Allowing one secondary suite within all residential zones outside of the urban containment boundary where site conditions meet requirements.    

With a recently updated Official Community Plan, as well as new Residential Infill Design Guidelines, Central Saanich is well-positioned to increase housing supply in a manner consistent with our community vision and neighbourhood character.   

Approach Overview 

Housing Inside the Urban Containment Boundary 

On January 22, 2024, staff prepared a report detailing new provincial legislation and proposed amendments to the zoning bylaw. Their approach included a sliding scale method to determine the number of permitted units based on lot size, aiming to encourage the retention of larger lots and reduce the need for subdivision. 

On May 13th, this approach was refined to allow sliding scale density within 400 meters of villages and along main corridors. On May 27th, it was further refined to remove the corridor zoning designation in the Turgoose neighborhood. 

For the complete staff reports, and additional supporting materials, please see the meeting agendas below.  

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Why Use Sliding Scale?  

When adopting Bill 44, the province needed an approach that could be utilized for both rural and urban municipalities. Meaning the residential unit requirements needed to work for urban centers with small lot sizes and municipalities like Central Saanich with larger lots and limited residential land base.  

The sliding scale approach, where the number of units permitted increase with size of the lot in villages and corridors, was developed to ensure that the district does not see an increase in subdivision as property owners try to maximize density by subdividing larger lots. Retaining larger lots improves opportunities for site planning, clustering buildings, tree retention, more efficient parking layouts, environmental protection, and areas for well-designed outdoor living space (eg: garden space, play areas, gathering areas). 


Analysis shows that using a sliding scale approach to enable more units on larger lots does not increase overall neighbourhood density. 


The Three Zone Approach 

To achieve the requirements outlined by Bill 44, staff are proposing to remove the current residential zones and replace them with three new zones. The District’s Official Community Plan aligns closely with this directive.  

  • The Residential Neighbourhood zone applies to the majority of lands in the urban containment boundary, where a total of 4 units would be permitted, in line with provincial requirements.   
  • The Residential Village Zone is determined by a 400 m radius around Saanichton and Brentwood Bay Villages, and using a sliding scale approach, this zone permits either 4, 6 or 8 units depending on lot size.   
  • The Corridor Zone permits up to eight units permitted depending on lot size.  This zone aligns with the Main Corridor policy area of the Official Community Plan. 

It is important to note that four “units” is not equal to four buildings. On the average residential lot, only two buildings will be permitted, but they can contain suites (up to four units total). On large lots, up to three buildings (six units) would be permitted. 

Some examples of Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing  


Housing outside the Urban Containment Boundary 

Under Bill 44 local governments are required to permit at least one additional dwelling in any restricted zone where single-family dwellings or duplexes are permitted. Most of our zones meet this requirement and minimal impact will be had. 

Under a separate project the District has been considering amending the Agricultural and Rural Estate zones in response to changes in provincial legislation affecting lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve; however, to meet the legislated timeline, zoning amendments must be adopted by June 30, 2024  


Regardless of the provincial efforts to encourage more housing, proposals continue to be dependent upon a property owner wanting to redevelop and financial viability. Even though the provincial legislation drastically changes municipalities zoning framework, the uptake on development is still anticipated to be gradual with a significant amount of District oversight through the development permit process. 

Council approval is still necessary for infill developments since approval of a development permit, and alignment with our OCP Design Guidelines is required to ensure sensitive design, however the timeline is shorter and the risk to the property owner is lower. 

What do the provincial legislation changes mean to Central Saanich?

Frequently Asked Questions