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B.C. government mum on whether density plan will include stratas

B.C.’s Homes for People program will allow up to four housing units on most detached-house lots, but officials silent on whether the additional homes will be rental only
B.C. Premier David Eby announces legislation that includes rezoning most single-family neighbourhoods to higher density. | Darren Stone/Times Colonist

In April, the B.C. government introduced its Homes for People action plan, a key policy of which is mandated rezoning of most areas in the province to allow up to four more housing units on each detached housing lot.

But there appears confusion on whether the extra units will be restricted to rental units or if the property owner can add strata homes, such as condos or townhouses, that can be sold.

While the 32-page brochure on the Homes for People plan extolls its aim to deliver affordable housing to “expensive single-detached homes” the term ‘homeownership’ never appears, and the word  ‘strata’ refers only to new restrictions that lift the ban on condo rentals.

Currently, in most of B.C,  secondary suites in existing houses, or laneway houses added to a lot, cannot be strata titled.

Yet many are under the impression that detached-house owners will be able, for instance, to build a separate laneway house or convert part of their house to an apartment that can be rented or sold.

One leading Vancouver architect even bet this writer a lunch if strata titles are not allowed under the Homes for People program.

The distinction is important, because it is detached house owners, not the province or municipal governments, who will decide if the plan is a success in creating more housing in single-detached neighbourhoods.

Real estate agents in Vancouver note that many detached house owners don’t want to become landlords but would welcome the opportunity to provide a strata unit on their lots.  A clarification on the issue now would enable house owners to plan ahead, they note.

But the province is mum when asked if the new legislation, to be introduced later this year, will restrict new units to rentals.

Repeated requests by Western Investor to have the rules clarified have been stonewalled.

“This fall, we will introduce legislation that will apply to many areas of the province and will allow up to four units on a traditional single-family detached lot (or 3 depending on the size/type of lot) with additional density permitted in areas well-served by transit. Policy work on this is underway and we’ll have more to say this fall,” according to the latest statement from a senior public affairs spokesman for the provincial government.

There is a clue, though, that the province does expect the cost of detached houses to increase when the density zoning becomes legislation, which could happen by year-end.

The Homes for People plan includes a flipping tax that will penalize speculators who buy residential properties and resell them soon after to capitalize on the price spiral.  


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