Adaptable and Accessible Housing Policy

Adaptable and Accessible housing refers to housing that accommodates all residents regardless of their abilities.  An Accessible dwelling is designed to meet the needs of people with all abilities; an Adaptable dwelling is designed to be easily renovated to meet tenant or owner's changing accessibility needs.

Introducing an adaptable housing policy that requires a minimum percentage of residential units as part of a rezoning application to be either accessible or adaptable was identified as a medium term (3-5 year) priority of the 2018 Affordable Housing Strategy.

The goal of the policy review is to consider options to increase the amount of adaptable and accessible multiple-family (apartment, condo, townhouse) units developed in the City of Nanaimo.  The project will seek to understand:

  1. The supply of and demand for accessible and adaptable housing in Nanaimo.

  2. The barriers for including adaptable and accessible housing units within new developments.

  3. The impacts of implementing minimum adaptable unit requirements for all new multiple-unit dwellings.

  4. The need for additional accessible and adaptable housing standards beyond those required by the BC Building Code.

The project may inform the REIMAGINE review process and make policy and bylaw recommendations and may include zoning, OCP and/or design guideline revisions.  This project will run concurrently with the Family Friendly Housing Policy review. Engagement and timeline will overlap with family friendly housing policy as much as possible.


  • Progress
    • Phase 1- Research and Project Launch (we are here)

    • Phase 2- Impact Study/Draft Policy  (late Fall/Winter 2021)

    • Phase 3- Stakeholder Engagement (Winter 2021/22)

    • Phase 4- Final Policy (Spring 2022)

  • Documents
  • Details
  • Background

    In 2018, Nanaimo City Council endorsed the Nanaimo Affordable Housing Strategy (AHS). The AHS sets the priorities for the City of Nanaimo to address affordability across the housing continuum over the next ten years.  Introducing an adaptable housing policy that requires a minimum percentage of residential units as part of a rezoning application to be either accessible or adaptable was identified as a medium term (3-5 year) priority of the AHS.

    The City of Nanaimo currently has accessible parking requirements and rewards Schedule D density bonus points for developments where “at least 10% of the residential dwelling units meet all the accessibility requirements within the British Columbia Building Code 2012 (BCBC)”.  The City does not otherwise have any adaptable or accessibility requirements with respect to residential housing.

    The AHS includes the following actions related to an adaptable housing policy:

    • Following consultation with the development community and non-profit housing sector, propose minimum adaptable unit requirements for all new multiple unit dwellings.

    • Evaluate the viability of offering incentives for developers to supply a higher percentage of adaptable units.

    • Consider higher adaptable unit requirements for senior-oriented developments.

    • Develop an associated bylaw to implement the adaptable housing policy.

    • Promote financial assistance programs (e.g., Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI) grant) for households to make modifications to their home for accessibility.

    In 2019 the City of Nanaimo endorsed the Nanaimo Age Friendly Plan 2019 - 2023.  Supporting the development of more attainable (affordable) and accessible housing for seniors in Nanaimo that are close to amenities is included as an objective within the Age Friendly Plan.  The Age Friendly Plan also recommends reviewing “how the City of Nanaimo considers accessibility to ensure it meets the needs of an aging population.”

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