Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

The B.C. government has announced changes to the building code that expand options for secondary suites in multi-family buildings.

The change will give local governments the choice to allow secondary suites in side-by-side multi-family buildings such as duplexes, townhouses and row housing.

The changes do not apply to apartment-style buildings where units are above or below each other.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing, while ensuring buildings in B.C. meet health, safety and energy-efficiency standards.

Size restrictions for secondary suites are also being removed from the provincial building code, which applies throughout B.C. except for some federal lands and the City of Vancouver.

The provincial code does not set a minimum size, which means local governments may set their own restrictions for secondary suites.

ALSO READ: B.C. gets top marks in national energy efficiency report card

David Hutniak, chief executive officer of LandlordBC, says he supports the move because those secondary suites represent about two-thirds of all rental housing.

“We need more homes, more rental homes, and we’re not building tonnes of purpose-built rental, which is really what we would like to see more of,” he said.

It will be up to municipalities to decide whether to embrace the changes and amend zoning and development bylaws to allow the secondary suites.

Earlier this year, the province also announced it was changing the building code to allow 12-storey wood buildings, up from the previous limit of six storeys.

Mass timber construction refers to buildings in which the primary load-bearing structure is made of solid or engineered wood. It has a reduced carbon footprint when the wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests, and these buildings can be one-fifth the weight of comparable concrete structures, the ministry says.

The province has also introduced new requirements for public-sector buildings as part of its energy step code, a voluntary standard for energy efficiency that local governments and builders can opt in to. Rather than specifying how to construct a building, the energy step code identifies an efficiency target and allows the builder to decide how to meet it.

There are now energy step code requirements for hospitals, schools, community centres and university classrooms, in part of an effort to make new buildings in B.C. net-zero energy ready by 2032, the province says

The changes to the B.C. building code are set to apply to building permit applications on or after Dec. 12.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo RCMP say increase in cycling opens up potential for more bike thefts

Police advise cyclists register their bikes with 529 Garage

City of Nanaimo to look at turning NDSS field into mid-size stadium

Parks and rec will begin stakeholder engagement and begin work on a phased plan for improvements

Woman arrested near Nanaimo’s Westwood Lake after road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

Stock the Lockers drive for vulnerable students in Nanaimo begins

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation exec says students need support leading up to fall semester

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Plane crashes into Nelson supermarket parking lot

Pilot and passenger have minor injuries

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Pandemic isn’t a time for tax increases

City councillors are out of touch with the taxpayers, says letter writer

New ICBC data details Nanaimo intersections with the most crashes

Old Island Highway at Bowen Road and Norwell Drive saw the most crashes in 2019

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Most Read