New measures are coming to B.C. that will help create more housing as the province speeds up permitting and helps build more secondary suites for rent.
“People in our province deserve a decent place to live they can actually afford to rent or buy, but a chronic housing shortage and long permit approval times are frustrating that achievable goal,” said Premier David Eby. “Our government is taking action. We’re making it easier and faster to get provincial permits to build new homes, and offering financial support for people who could build a suite they can rent out at more affordable rates. We’ve got lots to do, which is why we’re focusing on initiatives like these that make a real and tangible difference for thousands of families.”
The first action focuses on speeding up the permitting process through the launch of a one-stop shop that eliminates the need for multiple permitting applications across different ministries. The Single Housing Application Service (SHAS) will help deliver more homes faster by creating a simpler permitting application for homebuilders. The service will help clear permitting backlogs, while maintaining environmental standards. With the introduction of SHAS, the province expects permit timelines to be reduced by two months.
“Our government is laser-focused on taking action on housing,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “One way we’re doing this is by eliminating the current permitting backlog and speeding up homebuilding project approvals with the launch of a user-friendly tool that connects people to project experts. These expert ‘navigators’ will guide homebuilders through the provincial permitting process and provide a personal, one-stop shop that will streamline the process.”
The SHAS connects homebuilders to “navigators,” dedicated staff in the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, who guide applicants through all stages of permit applications, act as the single, dedicated point of contact for all information related to homebuilding permits and co-ordinate permitting decisions across ministries.
The second initiative centres on secondary suites and comes ahead of planned legislation this fall to make secondary suites legal throughout the province, and a pilot incentive program to help homeowners build secondary suites.
To help homeowners navigate this process, the province has launched a new comprehensive guide, titled Home Suite Home. The guide provides people with the information to prepare to build and manage a rental suite in British Columbia. This follows recent steps to make improvements at B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Branch, including more timely dispute resolutions.
The guide can be used as a resource for people preparing to access the Secondary Suite Incentive Program (SSIP). The pilot program, set to launch in early spring 2024, will provide approximately 3,000 homeowners with forgivable loans of up to $40,000 to create a new secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit on their property. The loans will only go to properties that will be rented below market rates. Additional eligibility requirements of the program have been made available so people interested can prepare ahead of the launch.
“We’ve heard from a lot of homeowners that they would love to create a rental suite on their property, but find the process to build and manage one confusing and time-consuming,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “Our new Home Suite Home guide and secondary suite pilot program will clearly and concisely provide homeowners with the information they need to make an informed choice on whether adding a rental unit is right for them.”
These initiatives are part of the province’s Homes for People action plan. Announced in spring 2023, the plan builds on record investments in housing since 2017, and sets out several actions to deliver the homes people need in a shorter timeframe, while creating more vibrant communities throughout B.C.