Provincial Housing Legislation Updates

At the end of 2023, the BC Government passed new legislation that apply across the province and impact the City of Fort St. John’s land use planning framework. The provincial updates intend to fulfill the Homes for People Action Plan priorities to aggressively close the gap between housing supply and demand in our province. Local Governments are required to update their bylaws by summer 2024 to meet the new provincial requirements.

Despite the generational housing shortage and deteriorating housing affordability, the rate of homebuilding in B.C. has minimally increased since the 1990s. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimates 570,000 homes must be built in the province by 2030, double our current pace.

The City of Fort St. John is committed to keeping our neighbourhoods and businesses informed about the Provincial changes. More information on the new provincial amendments, requirements and bills can be found here.

Overview of what's changing

The following table is intended to provide a quick reference to illustrate the new rules and what to expect from the City in response to these provincial mandates.

Legislation Changes

What is the change and how will this impact Fort St. John?

Bill 44:
Residential Development

Currently, the maximum number of dwelling units in our low-density zones is 1 in the R-1 zone and 2 in the R-2 zone. With this change to allow up to 4 units on a single lot, we will potentially see an incremental increase in single and duplex lots with redeveloped two, three or four units.

Bill 46: New Development Finance Tools

The City of Fort St. John already has established fixed Development Cost Charges to help fund costs associated with new development, so no new impacts are anticipated. 

Housing Needs Report Required

The City's Housing Needs Report was completed in 2021. In 2024, it will be reviewed and updated based on the 2021 Census. 

Official Community Plans 

Official Community Plans are now required to be updated every 5 years. Our Official Community Plan was adopted in 2017 and will be updated by the end of 2024 to address density, zoning, and development permit area changes to align with the required bylaws. A full review will take place in 2025.

Zoning Bylaws

Work is underway to align our Zoning Bylaw with the Housing Needs Report and Official Community Plan. All residential (R-1, R-1A, R-2, R-4, and R-4A) parcels currently identified as low-density will be able to develop up to 4 units on a single lot. (Principal dwelling and a combination of suites or detached suites).

Public Hearings

Public hearings for rezonings are prohibited if the proposal aligns with the Official Community Plan. We will look to improve communication and the engagement process between the community, developers, and City Council and staff.

As a municipality and community, we are in a strong position to manage these changes and meet all mandated timelines. 

How significant are these changes?

Across the province, this is considered a sweeping change, and many municipalities are struggling to meet the new requirements. Over the last twenty years, the City of Fort St. John has already been incrementally addressing some of these new planning rules.

Fort St. John is geographically located in the North, surrounded by significant natural resources, agricultural lands, and wilderness. It offers endless socio-economic benefits, providing many with a reason to call this place home.

When will Council be considering these changes?

The legislation requires the zoning changes to be implemented by June 30, 2024. Council will review proposed changes during an upcoming Regular Council Meeting to implement Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing (SSMUH). The City will publish the dates for those meetings as soon as they been established.