2024 Provincial Legislation Changes

Last Updated April 11, 2024

At the end of 2023, the Provincial Government passed several new pieces of legislation that apply across the province and impact the District of Sooke land use planning framework. The provincial updates intend to fulfill the Homes for People plan priorities to respond to the current housing crisis.

More information on the new provincial amendments, requirements and bills can be found here. If you have questions about the provincial mandates, contact the B.C. Planning and Land Use Management Branch PLUM@gov.bc.ca.

The District of Sooke is committed to keeping residents and businesses informed about the provincial changes and will continue to provide updates on our website. Stay informed by subscribing to receive our monthly e-newsletter here.Additional information, as it becomes available, will also be shared on this page.

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A Few Key facts:

  • The District of Sooke is not one of the 31 identified municipalities that are required to designate Transit-Oriented Areas (TOAs) and adopt minimum allowable densities prescribed in Bill 47 – Housing Statutes (Transit-Oriented Development) Amendment Act.
  • Secondary suites and/or accessory dwelling units are allowed province-wide in all single-family residential zones, in all municipalities and regional district electoral areas as prescribed in Bill 44.
  • The requirement for six units of small-scale, multi-unit housing wholly or partly within 400 m of a “prescribed bus stop” does not apply in the District of Sooke because there are no bus stops in Sooke that meet the Province’s definition of “prescribed bus stop”.
  • The requirement for three to four units of small-scale, multi-unit housing on fully serviced (water & municipal sewer) parcels of land, if zoned exclusively for single-family or duplex residential applies in Sooke. Exemptions apply as explained in Part 1, Section 3 of the Provincial Policy Manual
  • Sooke must update their bylaws by June 30, 2024, to meet the new Provincial requirements.
  • Effective May 1, 2024, the Government of BC Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act will require short-term rental hosts to display a valid business licence number on listings and join a provincial short-term rental registry.

Overview of what’s changing

New Rule Detail
Bill 16 — Housing Statutes Amendments Act, 2024 received second reading on April 9, 2024  (Posted April 11, 2024) Considerations are captured below; however, please note that this is in the very early stages and greater specificity on what this means for Sooke is not yet known as we await more information from the Province:

  • Density bonus updates: This will establish a framework for density bonusing that parallels inclusionary zoning, including requirements for consultation, financial feasibility analysis, and public reporting.
  • Site-level infrastructure and transportation demand management: Local governments will have expanded authority to require site-specific works and services in new developments. This includes active transportation-related measures such as sidewalks, benches and protected bike lanes, and transportation demand management measures such as charging stations and secure parking facilities for bicycles and scooters.
  • Tenant protection bylaws: Local governments will have the authority to enact tenant protection bylaws to require developers to provide support for tenants facing displacement in cases of redevelopment, including financial assistance, assistance with finding a new place to live, and opportunities for right of first refusal on units in a new building.
Bill 35: Short-Term Rental Accommodations Bill 35 will come into effect on May 1, 2024.

It requires a person who offers a unit (a host) for short term rental to obtain a business licence and to be registered under a newly-formed registry.

The short-term rental offer must now display the following:

·         a valid business licence number;

·         a valid registration number; and

·         any information to be prescribed by regulation.

If either the business licence or provincial registration number is missing from the short-term rental offer, the short-term rental platform must remove the offer at the request of the local government.

Further, Short-term rentals will be limited to a structure within a host’s principal residence.

Exemptions: Bill 35 does not apply to hotels or motels.

Bill 44: Small-scale multi-unit housing 3 units are permitted on single-family or duplex lots less than 280 square metres and 4-units are permitted on single-family duplex lots greater than 280 square metres with water and sewer connections, unless otherwise exempt.
Bill 46: New Development Finance Tools Development Cost Charges (DCCs) can now be applied to fire protection facilities, police facilities and solid waste facilities.

Amenity Cost Charges (ACCs) assist in the costs being known upfront, rather than at the zoning stage, and can apply to capital costs of community amenities (e.g. communities centres, recreation centres, libraries).

Housing Needs Reports (HNR) The province will provide municipalities with the methodology for the HNR in early 2024. Municipalities MUST have the HNR complete by the end of the year. The data from the report will forecast housing needs for the next 20 years and will be foundational in updates to the Official Community Plan.

Sooke’s current HNR can be found here.

Official Community Plans (OCP) OCPs need to be updated every 5 years and include accommodations for housing on 20-year projections.

Sooke’s current OCP can be found here.

Information on Sooke’s recent public engagement to update the OCP (Bylaw No. 800) can be found here.

Zoning Bylaws Zoning bylaws must align with HNR and OCPs, and be updated by June 2024. This phase of an update is likely to be relatively minor for Sooke with a more comprehensive update once a new OCP is adopted.

Sooke’s current Zoning Bylaw can be found here.

Public Hearings Public hearings for rezonings are prohibited if the proposal is in alignment with the OCP and predominantly offers residential development.

More about public hearings and current public notices can be found at sooke.ca/publicnotices

Bill 47: Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Areas This does not apply to Sooke.
Parking in TOD Areas This does not apply to Sooke.

Frequently Asking Questions

How significant are these changes?

Some refer to these changes as the greatest planning change in local government history. The changes are significant.

What they mean and how they impact Sooke will shift our landscape. However, we are hopeful to apply numerous best practices and work within the legislation and with the community, including builders and developers, to retain our small-town, big heart feel while increasing the vibrancy of our community.

Has anything changed yet?

No, Sooke’s current zoning bylaw and procedures remain in place and no development entitlements have changed. Sooke has until June 30, 2024, to amend Sooke’s Zoning Bylaw to achieve compliance with Bill 44.

Where can I find the location of Sooke’s Urban Containment Boundary (UCB)?

Sooke’s UCB is called the Community Growth Area (CGA) and is defined within Sooke’s Official Community Plan. It is viewable on our interactive webmap: District of Sooke Map (arcgis.com)

Can municipalities opt out of the provincial legislation?

The legislation contains a provision for local governments to request a deferral until 2030 to comply, but only on certain technical grounds relating to infrastructure capacity.  Otherwise, there is no ability for a local government to be exempt from the changes.