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Small-Scale Multi-Unit Home (SSMUH / Multiplex) Update June 2024

Updated: Jun 30

In the few weeks before the Province of BC's June 30 deadline to amend zoning bylaws, city governments have provided updates and usually proposed amendments that spell out exactly what you will be permitted to build on a single-family property starting this July.


In this article - which I will be updating and expanding regularly as additional municipalities report back - I summarize the main points from Council Minutes, city staff reports, and city publications. If you don't want to hunt for or wade through the information from your city, this summary gives a quick idea of what's coming (or not) down the pike in July.


simulated photograph of a small multifamily building in a leafy suburb, summer, sunny

SSMUH REGULATIONS

Most cities appear to have followed through with the provincial directive as intended, but several municipalities have responded otherwise and for different reasons. Regardless, the information is strewn about in various forms and levels of completion largely due to the huge impact that the provincial mandate has on city rules, so you may not know what the situation is where you live. More importantly, you may be banking on building in your city what is allowed elsewhere when it might not be.


Abbreviations you might need to know:

ADU: Accessory Dwelling Unit - a smaller building typically behind the main house, which contains typically one independent dwelling unit

FSR / FAR: Floor Space Ratio / Floor Area Ratio - a ratio of the total floor area of the building divided by the area of the property.

SSMUH: Small-scale multi-unit home - the new term introduced by the province for a development consisting of three or more dwelling units

TOD Area: Transit-Oriented Development Area - properties within 800m of a rapid transit station (e.g. Skytrain) or 400m of a bus exchange


METRO VANCOUVER


Vancouver

Vancouver revised its single-family zoning in April, 2023 by consolidating the zones RS-1 to RS-9 to a new R1-1 Residential Inclusive zone.

  • Multiplex concept introduced

  • Floor space ratio 0.70, but 1.00 is permitted under certain arrangements


Burnaby

GREEN LIGHT IN JULY

June 10:

  • all residential zones R1-R12 will be changed to new R1 SSMUH

  • 3 units on lots that are up to 280 m2 (3,014 sq. ft.);

    • 4 units on lots greater than 280 m2 (3,014 sq. ft.); and

    • 6 units on lots at least 281 m2 (3,025 sq. ft.) and within a Frequent Transit Network Area.

  • single building, 2x duplexes, cottage court, laneway homes, rowhouse

  • no maximum floor area; maximum site coverage limit

  • 3rd reading and adoption June 10; begin accepting applications July 2


Richmond

  • initial objection to compatibility with YVR and Canada Line

  • asking for extension in Steveston


Surrey

  • city staff report R109 to June 10 Council with proposed zoning bylaw amendment

  • New zoning categories to renumber / rename existing single-family residential zones

  • 3-4 units permitted; 6 units within a frequent transit area 400m

  • A wide variety of housing configurations permitted = houseplexes, coach houses, and garden suites have been added to the bylaw

  • no rear lane access required

  • new SSMUH permissions will be bestowed on CD zones based on single-family zoning

  • scheduled adoption of the revised zoning bylaw June 26


Abbotsford

  • all units must be within a single building

  • no change in maximum site coverage, floor area, or building height

  • 1.5 parking stalls per dwelling unit

  • no stratified properties allowed

  • zoning bylaw update by June 30 but proposal is still under consideration


District North Vancouver

June 4:

  • Council passed bylaws for SSMUH

  • zone RMS Small-Scale Mult-Family Residential Zone is drafted


City of North Vancouver

May 27:

  • TOD designation amendment passed

  • city staff are requesting from the province an extension to the deadline


District of West Vancouver

  • concludes that "The definition of “Restricted Zone” in the LGA does not encompass parcels that permit single-family dwelling, secondary suites and detached secondary suites (coach house). Consequently, the District’s RS1-5 and RS7-10 zones are not “Restricted Zones” and not subject to SSMUH requirements."

  • small portion of single-family zones are assessed as impacted by SSMUH regulations


Port Moody

June 12:

  • City of Port Moody Zoning Bylaw, 2018, No. 293 update scheduled to be passed in Special Council meeting June 18

  • The vast majority of residential properties in the city are eligible for 4 units RS1, RS1-S, RS2, RS3, RS5, RS6, RS7, RS8, RS9, and RT

  • Some parking required outside of 400m from bus stop

  • Floor Area Ratio 0.70 - 1.00, site coverage 45%-50%


Port Coquitlam

June 11:

  • Council Meeting approved updates to the zoning bylaw, ZONING AMENDMENT BYLAW, 2024 Bylaw No. 4374

  • FSR increased to 0.75 for duplex, 1.00 for triplex

  • 4 units on most RS, 6 units if within 400m of bus stop

  • rear building "Accessory Dwelling Unit" only one unit

  • front building max. 3 primary units, but each may have a Secondary suite


Coquitlam

  • May 13 Planning reported to Council on concerns

  • areas impacted have been identified but no response strategy yet

  • May 27 Regular Council passed request for 1 year extension

  • June 17 scheduled to approve TOD designation


Maple Ridge

  • SSMUH regulations planned for adoption June 30 2024


White Rock

  • May 27 council received staff report

  • re-organization of zoning designations recommended

  • 3-4 unit House-plex except 6 units in 400m TOD

  • parking reqts outside 400m: 0.5 - 1 per unit


New Westminster

  • five Transit Oriented Development Areas have been identified

  • Application of BC Government definition of "Restricted zone" is the same as West Vancouver - that properties which already allow a secondary suite and an accessory dwelling unit in the rear are not impacted by the new rules

  • Most properties in the Mainland portion of New West allow three housing units, so the city is not applying the new legislation to these properties

  • New West has a separate planned update to allow infill housing, in the future

  • Queensborough reportedly has water and sewer limitations that prevent adoption of the new density legislation, so the city has applied to the province for an extension

  • The city is considering allowing properties with duplexes to add secondary suites, provided additional parking is provided.


Mission

June 3:

  • city staff report proposes full compliance

  • 3-4 units except 6 in 400m TOD

  • multiple primary units permitted, but only one primary building and one accessory building (ADU / laneway house)


Pitt Meadows

  • The vast majority of residential properties will permit 3, 4, or 6 dwelling units depending on the lot size and the proximity to a TOD


Langley City

June 3:

  • Plex-Home (2-6 units)

  • 4 units except 6 in 400m TOD

  • First and second reading

  • June 17 scheduled meeting for third reading


Langley Township

June 10:

  • voted to defer final approval until October

  • April 29 report to council

  • SSMUH 1, SSMUH 2, SSMUH 3 added to Land Use Plan of Booth Neighbourhood Plan, Fernridge Neighbourhood Plan, and Rinn Neighbourhood Plan

  • Council directed staff to report on all sites potentially subject to provincial SSMUH rules

  • website states that SSMUH rules will be in effect by June 30


Delta

June 4:

  • June 3 council passed zoning amendments

  • SSMUH updates concurrent with OCP update

  • 3-4 units except 6 in 400m TOD

  • max. two garden suites or coach houses

  • 1 parking per unit except none inside 400m




BRITISH COLUMBIA INTERIOR


Kelowna

  • Four TOA have been designated

  • March 18 Council adopted amendments to the Zoning Bylaw

  • June 18 Regular Council Meeting will vote on new Zoning Bylaw and OCP


West Kelowna

  • May 21 Regular Council Meeting, Council adopted Zoning Bylaw amendments

  • 3-4 dwelling units permitted

  • Form and Character Development Permit required only for Townhouse forms

  • Secondary Suite and Carriage house regulations are revised slightly to provide the additional dwelling units; a maximum of four buildings on a lot are permitted

  • Triplex and Fourplex Townhouse buildings are permitted in two specific zones only

  • Additional infill approaches are being explored by city staff

  • parking required: 1 space per 1-BR unit and 1.5 spaces per 2+BR unit for secondary suites and carriage houses


Penticton

  • staff are in the process of reviewing the proposed legislation and preparing for the future changes prior to the Province’s June 30, 2024 deadline

  • Zones R1, R2, and R3 will be rezoned to R4-L and R4-S


Osoyoos

June 11

  • city staff are requesting a five-year extension to June 30, 2029 to implement changes for SSMUH due to inadequate supply of drinking water for the increased density

  • nonetheless, amendments to the OCP are adopted, that will accommodate the SSMUH in the future



Kamloops

May 28 city staff report to Council with proposed amendments:

  • 3-4 units on urban residential lots; 6 units not permitted due to inadequate transit except in R3 zone

  • 55% site coverage in R1, R2, and R4 urban residential zones

  • city is asking for an extension for applying SSMUH rules to the Limited Fire Flow Extension Area and Rayleigh Waterworks District

  • TOA have been identified

  • 1.0 parking stalls per dwelling unit


Merritt

(awaiting information)

  • June 18 closed session Council Meeting scheduled

  • May 21 closed session Council Meeting agenda included small-scale multi-unit housing

Salmon Arm

June 3:

  • zoning bylaw update scheduled for June 30

  • Infill Housing incorporates duplexes and Accessory Dwelling Units

  • updates are being proposed to the process of development applications and approvals





VANCOUVER ISLAND


Victoria

Victoria introduced houseplex zoning in January 2023.


Oak Bay

(awaiting information)


Saanich

June 10:

  • zoning bylaw updates were adopted by Council on June 10, to go into effect June 30

  • 3-4 units except 6 within 400m TOD area

  • Garden Suite and Houseplex forms introduced in Schedule G of the zoning bylaw

  • FSR 1.00

  • Site coverage 50%


Nanaimo

May 27:

  • zoning bylaw updates given final reading; expected to be adopted by Council June 17

  • SSMUH directive moves development in the same direction as the Increasing Housing Options program from 2023, with only several revisions required to the proposal to align with the BC rules

  • Site coverage 40%

  • No maximum Floor Area Ratio

  • R5 zone



Are you looking for what the rules are in your city but don't see them in the list above? Email me with a request; I'll dig up what's available and add your city to the list



My experience spans over two decades in the architectural industry in Western Canada serving clients who were individuals, private developers, and public governmental departments with diverse priorities and needs. I'm a member of Passive House Canada and International Passive House Association, so I understand not only the need for detailed design but also the need for a design that intrinsically keeps the cost of construction down.


My SAPPHR Strategy™ is my process to ensure all requirements are identified at the outset of a project and that the design then meets the resulting objectives. Wandering through design, assuming that the final building will fulfill your objectives and hoping that the cost will be manageable is a dangerous gamble.


The very first step in my SAPPHR Strategy™ is a pre-design study which I call the RED Report™. RED stands for Real Estate Development and shows you the options available to you; it's a quick and inexpensive report that allows you to compare options and determine which best suits your needs.


You can download a free sample of the report which includes renovations, new houses, and laneway homes; but I've just developed a brand-new version of the RED Report™ specifically for the SSMUH / multiplex / houseplex development. In this new report, you'll find out:

  • how many dwelling units you are permitted to build

  • how large the dwelling units are allowed to be

  • how much floor area you're allowed to build

  • what building configurations are permitted

  • the maximum number of storeys and maximum building height allowed

  • the maximum site coverage permitted for your development, and

  • how many parking stalls are required


Click the button below to book a free appointment with me to learn more about the SAPPHR Strategy™ or to request your own RED Report™.




 

DISCLAIMER:


The information included in this article is to an extent generic and intended for educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute legal or professional advice. Thorough efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of the article, but having read this article, you understand and agree that Daniel Clarke Architect disclaims any legal liability for actions that may arise from reliance on the information provided in this article. I am an architect in BC, but readers are recommended to consult with their own architect on their specific situations before making any decisions or exercising judgement base on information in the article.

 


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