Family Friendly Housing Policy

The City’s Affordable Housing Strategy, and recent rental housing survey, recognizes that the increasing housing costs and lack of rental spaces has made finding housing challenging for all types of families requiring multiple bedrooms. 

The goal of the Family Friendly Housing Policy review is to encourage the construction of larger two and three plus bedroom units appropriate for larger and/or extended families within new multi-unit residential developments. 

Through the policy review, Staff will look to better understand the following:

  1. The supply and demand for 2, 3 and 3+ bedroom multi-family housing (rental and ownership) in Nanaimo.

  2. The cost implications of requiring an increased proportion of 2 and 3 bedroom units in new multi-unit residential developments.

  3. How to encourage amenities and housing types best suited to support families with children.

  4. What amendments, if any, should be made to REIMAGINE Nanaimo strategy documents (OCP, Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan) as well as other bylaws (e.g. Off Street Parking Bylaw or Zoning Bylaw) to encourage more family friendly multi-family housing.

The project may inform the REIMAGINE review process and make policy and bylaw recommendations and may include zoning, OCP and/or design guideline revisions. 

Engagement and timeline will overlap with the adaptable and accessible 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

    Nanaimo’s primary rental vacancy rate of 1% (October 2020) is well below the 3-5% threshold indicator of a healthy rental housing market.  The 2020 vacancy rate for 2 bedroom apartments is even lower at 0.8% and 0% for 3 or more bedroom units. 


    In the past, ownership of a single detached house in Nanaimo was attainable for many moderate income households. With increasing real estate prices, choice in both rental and ownership markets has become constrained. The City of Nanaimo’s Official Community Plan (2008) and Affordable Housing Strategy (2018) include an objective to “Diversify Housing Form in All Neighbourhoods” in order to “create attainable homeownership options and alleviate pressure on the existing rental housing stock”.  Developing a policy on Family Friendly Housing (objective 3.2) is identified as a short-term priority (1 to 2 years) within the Affordable Housing Strategy.  


    The strategy recommends the following actions as part of developing a policy on Family Friendly Housing:


    1. Complete market research analysis to understand the cost implications of requiring an increased proportion of 2 and 3 bedroom units in new multi-unit residential developments, including both rental and ownership housing.

    2. Consult with the development community and non-profit housing sector regarding the proposed incentive program.

    3. Develop a specific policy on family-friendly housing to encourage new multi-unit developments to provide a minimum percentage of 2 and 3 bedroom units.

    4. Provide incentives for developments that provide a greater proportion of units that are 2 and 3 bedrooms. For example, where a project included 20% of units as 2 and 3 bedrooms, then the additional incentive would apply.

    5. Ensure the parking requirements for family-friendly housing reflect access to frequent transit service and that there be access to local amenities such as parks, playgrounds and schools.

    6. Provide guidelines or suggestions to developers in terms of family-friendly design, space programming, and availability of amenities.

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