B.C. government introduces Housing Supply Act and removes strata rental restrictions

WATCH: The B.C. government is implementing new measures to tackle the housing crisis. Municipalities will be required to set housing targets, and rental restrictions on certain properties are being lifted. But as Richard Zussman reports, critics say the Housing Supply Act won't help affordability.

The B.C. government is putting in two new measures to address housing affordability but is short of specific details on exactly what powers the province’s housing minister will have.

The government is introducing the Housing Supply Act to increase the supply of housing by pushing municipalities to establish housing targets and build towards those goals.

If passed, the law will require local governments to create Housing Needs Reports every five years and the minister will then review the reports to determine if a housing target needs to be set in a municipality.

California and the United Kingdom currently have similar housing target frameworks.

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The pressure will be on the municipalities to quickly approve housing projects and, in some cases, increase density in order to keep up with demand.

The government, now led by Premier David Eby, is also amending the Strata Act to remove almost all rental restrictions.

The only exception will be for 55-plus buildings and a caveat is built in to allow for an in-home care aid to be allowed residency no matter the age.

“(This) provides full property rights to strata owners by allowing rental of their unit especially when life events occur and they need to move from their unit,” reads part of the government’s PowerPoint presentation on the policy change.

Eby promised sweeping housing changes during the one policy announcement he laid out during the short-lived leadership race.

Missing from the announcement on Monday is a commitment to a house flipping tax and legalizing secondary suites in all areas of the province. There is also no specific mention of allowing homebuilders in major urban centres to replace a single-family home with up to three units on the same footprint.

On the housing legislation introduced Monday, it is expected that targets will be applied to approximately eight to 10 municipalities.

It is unknown which municipalities will be targeted but the legislation is expected to apply to municipalities needing the most urgent action on housing supply.

Eby has hit the ground running since he officially became premier on Friday, including announcing affordability measures, public safety changes and now housing legislation.

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