The B.C. government aims to speed up permitting and add more housing supply with the announcement Monday of new tools and incentives.
The Single Housing Application Service (SHAS) – what the province describes as a "one-stop shop" for permitting – was unveiled alongside incentives aimed at encouraging the creation of more secondary suites throughout the province.
“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,” Premier David Eby said in a news release.
The provincial government expects to reduce permit timelines by two months with the introduction of the SHAS. The system will eliminate the need for multiple applications to different ministries, help clear permit backlogs and maintain environmental standards, according to the government.
Homebuilders will be connected to staff in the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship that will act as points of contact, guiding homebuilders through the permitting steps and co-ordinating with other ministries.
“CHBA BC is pleased to see the strides the provincial government is making to reduce the long-standing challenges and delays homebuilders face when navigating multiple ministries for permits,” said Neil Moody, CEO of Canadian Home Builders’ Association British Columbia, in Monday’s news release.
Premier Eby announced plans in January to speed up housing approvals and construction through a so-called “one-stop shop” for permitting.
The BC NDP pledged to build 114,000 affordable rental, non-profit, co-op and owner-purchased housing units through partnerships by 2027 during its 2017 election campaign. Both initiatives are part of the B.C. government’s Homes for People action plan, announced in spring 2023.
The province on Monday also unveiled its Secondary Suite Incentive Program (SSIP).
The program will give roughly 3,000 homeowners forgivable loans of up to $40,000 to create a new secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit on their property. The dwellings or secondary suite must be rented out at below market rates, according to Monday’s news release.
There are roughly 228,700 units across the province that could be rented out as secondary suites, according to BC Assessment data from 2022.
“Secondary suites are an important source of long-term rental housing across British Columbia. This initiative by the province will encourage homeowners with under-utilized space to create additional units of badly needed rental housing,” said David Hutniak, CEO of LandlordBC, in Monday’s news release.