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District of Squamish gearing up for imminent zoning and development changes

Muni staff collecting information on timing of provincial regulations for faster housing development.
One of the notable changes, previously announced by the province, includes the District needing to update the zoning bylaw to “permit up to three or four units per lot, depending on minimum lot size." 

Staff at municipal hall are starting to get a handle on what sweeping changes in provincial housing legislation will mean for Squamish.

A short District of Squamish staff memo outlined incoming provincial zoning and development changes stemming from the provincial legislation. However, muni staff are still gathering information before the changes are implemented.

At the Jan. 16 regular business meeting, a housing memo was received by District of Squamish council with some details about how provincial Bills 44, 46 and 47 will put into effect across the municipality. 

While council members seemed eager to dive in, the director of community development, Jonas Velaniskis, said District staff would “very soon” contemplate finer details, likely at a committee meeting.

“Staff are actively working on compiling all this information and adapting our work plans for this year and for next year because the changes are going to come into the next two years,” said Velaniskis.

One of the notable changes, previously announced by the province, requires the District to update the zoning bylaw to “permit up to three or four units per lot, depending on minimum lot size." 

For lots within a certain distance of frequent public transit, zoning will need to permit up to six units; however, Velaniskis said they had yet to be informed of that exact distance.

Municipal zoning bylaw updates have to be completed by June 2024.

Another change is that the province has expanded the infrastructure eligible to be funded through development cost charges (DCC) to include fire protection, police and solid waste facilities. The province also introduced amenity cost charges (ACC), which will help collect money for community amenities. 

As such, the memo notes the District will consider a DCC bylaw update and will consider pursuing an ACC bylaw, possibly in 2024.

Coun. Jenna Stoner noted that the Union of BC Municipalities hopes to host a seminar on the legislation changes in mid-February, similar to last year’s housing summit.

“In part to help connect municipalities, local governments to better understand the implications of the legislation [and] how different municipalities and local governments are managing and what their plans are,” she said.

Coun. Chris Pettingill said that there will need to be a “giant communications piece” on how to inform the public of these impending changes, which are largely outside of the municipality's control.

“How the heck do we get our public to understand what all this means and where we do and don't have discretion?” he asked rhetorically.

Mayor Armand Hurford said he believed many finer details will be worked out over time. 

“I know that there's a lot of interest in this—both in this room and in the community. … But, we'll be back,” said Hurford. 

“There's not just an in-depth conversation to come, but many in-depth conversations to come on its contents.”

The B.C. government shared on Jan. 17 that funding would be given out to municipalities in an effort to help with the new regulations. The District of Squamish received close to $260,000 and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District received about $174,000.

Read the District’s staff memo from the Jan. 16 meeting agenda on


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