Proposed changes in BC Legislation to affect housing, zoning, official community plans, and amenity cost charges

Aerial view of small-scale multi-unit housing

December 1st, 2023 

Throughout early November 2023, the BC Ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing made four separate announcements that will affect municipalities in BC. 

These announcements are part of three bills (Bill 44-2023, Bill 46-2023, and Bill 47-2023) and, if passed, would amend the Local Government Act 

McElhanney’s urban planners prepared a summary of these proposed changes for use by municipalities, planners, and the public. Read the full article here on LinkedIn or explore the summary below. 


The amendments will allow: 

  • More small-scale, multi-unit housing; 
  • Amenity cost charges to streamline delivery of homes, services, and infrastructure; 
  • More homes near transit hubs with minimum height, density, and floor area ratio requirements; and 
  • New standardized small-scale multi-unit home designs to build more homes quicker. 

More small-scale multi-unit housing: 

The proposed legislation and forthcoming regulations will permit one secondary suite or one laneway home (accessory dwelling unit) in communities throughout BC, with some exceptions. Additional requirements are in place for municipalities over 5,000 residents. 

Also of note is a requirement for Official Community Plans and zoning bylaws to be updated, with an initial update deadline set for December 31st, 2025. Housing Need Reports must be updated by January 1st, 2025. 

Amenity cost charges to streamline delivery of homes, services, and infrastructure:

As local governments shift to more upfront planning and zoning, the proposed legislation provides high-growth communities with a more efficient and transparent development-finance tool called an amenity cost charge (or ACC). Instead of amenity costs and agreements coming together during the rezoning stage, this tool is part of the upfront planning process, giving builders and municipalities a better, clearer, and more transparent understanding of costs associated with a housing project from the start. 

The legislation also makes changes to development cost charges (or “development cost levies” in the Vancouver Charter). Development cost charges are an existing legislative tool that allow local governments to collect funds from home builders to help pay for specific, core infrastructure needs before a development is built, such as drainage, water, sewer, and roads. Changes through this legislation will allow local governments the flexibility to allocate funds collected from homebuilders to support additional local services and infrastructure including the fire protection facilities (fire halls), police facilities, and solid-waste facilities that support new homes. Prior to this amendment, one of the only options to recover these costs was through property taxes.   

More homes near transit hubs with minimum height, density, and floor area ratio requirements:

The proposed legislation will require municipalities to designate transit-oriented development areas near transit hubs. These transit-oriented development areas are defined as land within 800M of a rapid transit station (e.g., SkyTrain station) and within 400M of a bus exchange where passengers transfer from one route to another (e.g., Newton Bus Exchange in Surrey). 

New standardized small-scale multi-unit home designs to build more homes, quicker:

Through the new Standardized Housing Design Project, the Province is creating new standardized, customizable, residential designs for small-scale, multi-unit housing built on single lots. Up to 10 designs will be made available by local governments and offered to builders and homeowners at a significantly below-market cost to expedite permitting and development.


Municipalities, planners, and the public can read a full article by McElhanney’s urban planners exploring these proposed changes here on LinkedIn.

With planners located across BC, McElhanney’s urban planning team is here to help communities navigate and implement these changes. 


Contact us for more support. 

Colton Kirsop, Planner 

P | 236-317-9978 

E | 

Spread the word