Provincial legislation to increase housing supply

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In November 2023, the Province introduced legislation to increase housing supply. This requires Central Saanich to update what we allow to be built, development processes, & much more. 

Some of the mandates include:

  • no public hearings (as of Jan 1, 2024) where housing development is consistent with the Official Community Plan
  • allowing more units of housing on most lots currently zoned for single family or duplexes inside the Urban Containment Boundary by June 30, 2024.

In Central Saanich, the most significant change stemming from the Province’s new legislation is a move away from single-family and duplex zoning. By this summer, residential properties that are inside the Urban Containment Boundary will be permitted to accommodate more units, depending on lot size. It’s important to note units are not the same as buildings. 

What staff are recommending:

  • Three units (contained to two buildings) will be permitted on lots that are 280 square metres or smaller, and 
  • Four units (contained to two buildings) will be permitted on lots that are 281 square metres or larger
  • More units (maximum three buildings) may be permitted on large lots 1,000 square metres or larger

The configuration of housing units can be varied. One property owner interested in redeveloping their property might opt to build a duplex with two secondary suites. Another property owner might build a carriage home behind their existing single-family home to suit their family’s needs. Three friends might choose to develop a single-family property into a triplex. However, all will need to follow the District’s zoning bylaw, which must be updated by June 30, 2024.

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.  The approach is not drastically different than what the District enabled in 2021 following the Residential Infill project. The same principles of land use apply in that we are focused on infill within the Urban Containment Boundary, enabling suites and promoting diverse housing types, such as cottages or duplexes, that enable multi-generational housing. 

How we’re preparing
Staff have drafted recommendations to meet the requirements of the legislation, see meeting agendas below.

Meeting Date Agenda
January 22, 2024  Special Open Council Meeting
Staff Report
May 13, 2024 Regular Council
Bill 44 - Small Scale Multi-Unit Housing Draft Zoning
Bill 44 - Housing Outside Urban Containment Boundary 

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Summary of recommended approach to Bill 44

Background
An introductory report was provided at the January 22, 2024 Council meeting outlining the new provincial legislation and presented an approach for amending the zoning bylaw that included the following: 

  • Apply a sliding scale approach to determine the number of permitted units based on lot size,  
  • Allow more units on larger lots to encourage larger lot retention and decrease the need to subdivide,  
  • Support more units on larger lots to make missing middle typologies more feasible, 
  • Retain larger lots to improve opportunities for site adaptive planning, cluster buildings, improve tree retention, have more efficient parking layouts, consider areas for environmental protection, and have area for well-designed outdoor living space (eg: garden space, play areas, gathering areas), and 
  • Along travel corridors apply similar regulations as neighbourhoods but at a slightly higher density. 

Summary of the recommended approach
Housing inside the Urban Containment Boundary

  • A recommendation to consistently apply density across our residential neighbourhoods and to encourage a development pattern that increases density on the main roads close to villages, commercial nodes, and public transit, which aligns with growth management policies of our OCP.
  • The proposed zoning would apply a “sliding scale approach” where more units are permitted as lot size gets larger. A majority of the lots (72%) would be permitted four units, 21.8 % of lots would be permitted 6 units and 6.6 % of lots would be permitted 8 units. (Appendix H – Unit Distribution Map). Permitting up to 8 units on larger lots, would conform to the Neighbourhood Residential designation of the OCP. The sliding scale approach considers infill based on property sizes typical in the District without the need to subdivide.
  • Lots in certain areas on travel corridors would permit buildings up to three storeys to encourage building upward to retain open space.  Maximum lot coverage proposed is approximately 35-50%. 

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

Key points to note of the proposed approach

  • 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.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units shall be occupied for residential purposes only and shall not be rented for an occupancy period of less than 30 days.
  • Analysis shows that using a sliding scale approach to enable more units on larger lots does not increase overall neighbourhood density (dwellings/ha) and may lead to a more consistent development pattern.
  • The District’s Official Community Plan aligns closely with this directive. Within the Urban Containment Boundary, the OCP encourages a mix of housing types in areas predominately consisting of residential uses. Supported housing forms include single-detached, secondary suites, accessory cottages, duplexes, pocket-neighbourhoods and multi-unit residential buildings containing up to 8 dwellings.
  • 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.
  • Regardless of the provincial efforts to encourage more housing by increasing the number of permitted dwellings by rights-of-zoning and working to reduce approval timelines, development 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.

What do the provincial legislation changes mean to Central Saanich?

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