Provincial Housing Legislation Changes

Aerial view of Steveston village

Impact of Bill 44 & Bill 47 on Richmond Residents

In November 2023, the Provincial Government imposed Legislation (Bill 44 & Bill 47) that will significantly change housing throughout British Columbia, including Richmond.

These changes affect the approval process for residential projects, and allow density increases beyond those traditionally permitted in most Richmond neighbourhoods. The Province has mandated these changes with the aim of addressing housing affordability by creating increased supply.

It is important for residents to be aware of Bill 44 and Bill 47 and their impacts on the growth and character of Richmond and historic neighbourhoods such as Steveston. We hope the following information will answer some key questions.

Bill 44 - Small-scale Multi-unit Housing

How will Bill 44 affect Richmond?

The Province has imposed changes through Bill 44 (small-scale multi-unit housing) that require local government to prezone properties that were previously zoned for single-family or duplex use to allow multiplex buildings (three to six units). Because this is Provincial Legislation, the City must abide by these rules mandating the minimum number of units on residential properties.

Does the City of Richmond have to implement Bill 44?

Yes. These changes are now law and must be implemented with a bylaw no later than June 30, 2024.

How will Bill 44 change single-family neighbourhoods?

Bill 44 allows “Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing” on almost 27,000 lots currently zoned for single-family and duplex uses. In Richmond, we allow at least one secondary suite and/or accessory dwelling unit such as a coach house or granny flat per lot. The Province now also requires the City to allow:

  • a minimum of three units on residential lots with an area of 280m2 (3,014 ft2) or less
  • a minimum of four units on residential lots with an area greater than 280m2 (3,014 ft2)
  • a minimum of six units on residential lots with an area greater than 281m2 (3,014 ft2) located within 400m of bus stops with “frequent service” (15 minutes or less)

Note: the Bill 44 changes are not applicable to areas within a Transit-Oriented Area (see Bill 47 below).

Will the added density in neighbourhoods traditionally zoned for single-family homes and duplexes come with requirements for additional parking?

The Province suggests that minimum parking requirements should be reduced for areas that allow three to four units per lot. For areas that are allowed to have six units per lot (e.g., within 400m of a frequent service bus stop), the Provincial Legislation states that the minimum amount of off-street parking spaces can no longer be required. In those cases, the developer will now determine what parking, if any, is in place based on the perceived need. As a result, the City can no longer require parking in those areas.

Will the City be applying for any extensions from Bill 44?

Yes. The City has applied for an extension from Bill 44 for the Steveston neighbourhood. The extension is required due to the ongoing Steveston sanitary sewer replacement program and the need to ensure this infrastructure work is completed prior to allowing small-scale multi-unit housing in the area. More information can be found in the following news release: City Requests Bill 44 Deadline Extension.

Bill 47 - Transit Oriented Areas

What is a Transit-Oriented Area (TOA)?

The new Provincial legislation (Bill 47) defines a TOA as areas within 800 metres of a rapid transit station such as the Canada Line, and/or within 400 metres of a bus exchange.

What kind of development does Bill 47 allow in a TOA?

Bill 47 imposes the following densities and heights for residential buildings and mixed-used residential buildings in a TOA in Richmond and across Metro Vancouver:

Transit hub type Distance Minimum height (storeys) Minimum density (FAR) Type of Building
Rapid transit station <200m 20 5.0 Tower
201-400m 12 4.0 Mid-high rise
401-800m 8 3.0 Mid-rise
Bus exchange <200m 12 4.0 Mid-high rise
201-400m 8 3.0 Low-rise/townhouse

In Richmond, five Canada Line Stations have been identified as a TOA (Bridgeport, Capstan, Aberdeen, Lansdowne, and Brighouse). No bus exchanges have been identified. The height and density requirements only apply to lands designated for residential uses, including mixed-use land designations that include residential. Also, Federal Airport Zoning Regulations and associated maximum building heights supersede the TOA building heights.

What changes to parking requirements will occur for developments in a TOA (i.e. around Canada Line stations)?

Bill 47 removes the City’s ability to require minimum residential off-street parking spaces for buildings within TOAs, except for accessible parking spaces. The Province has stated it wants parking volumes determined by market need and demand, regardless of the impact on neighbourhood access and character. The restriction does not apply to non-residential (i.e. commercial) off-street parking requirements.

Developing Financing

What impact will the increased density have on City infrastructure?

Both Bill 44 and Bill 47 will add additional density to many parts of Richmond. The increased density in traditional single-family neighbourhoods will place a strain on existing infrastructure such as drainage and sewer systems, as well as electrical and other services. The increased density will create a need for additional amenities beyond those already planned such as community centres, parks and libraries. The City will consider these potential impacts as we update our Official Community Plan (OCP).

How will the City fund the additional infrastructure and amenities needed to support the additional density/population Bill 44 and Bill 47 will bring?

Two other Provincial bills, Bill 16 and Bill 46, outline new tools including additional Development Cost Charges (DCCs) and a new Amenity Cost Charge (ACC) to help fund infrastructure needs as density grows. Through ongoing investment, the City continues to upgrade infrastructure, services and amenities in as many neighborhoods as it can. The challenge will be keeping pace with the level of density imposed under Bill 44 and Bill 47. The City is investigating how best to utilize these financial tools to support infrastructure and amenities.

Public Input

Will there still be Public Hearings?

Under Bill 44, the Province no longer allows Public Hearings for housing projects that are consistent with the Official Community Plan. As residential projects make up approximately 90 per cent of the Public Hearing agenda, there will be few – if any – Public Hearings outside those mandated in Legislation. The City is looking at other means of obtaining community input on developments, as it is important for residents to be aware of changes in their neighbourhood.

Will residents have input into projects in their neighbourhoods?

Signage will still be in place to identify a property subject to a rezoning application, and residents and businesses within 100m of the property will receive notification by mail. Information on each application will be posted on the City’s website, and City staff will continue to answer questions by mail, email, telephone and via in-person meetings.

Will the City be hosting any public meetings on the impacts from Bill 44?

Yes. A series of public meetings will be held in July to provide information on the new housing bills and the associated bylaws that have been adopted. Check back for further details.

Additional Resources

  • Reports to City Council will be available soon.
  • Visit the Province’s website for more information on the Provincial housing bills.