Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing

Bill 44 – Housing Statutes Amendment Act 2023 requires local governments to update zoning bylaws to allow Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing (SSMUH) on any lots currently zoned for a single family home or duplex by June 30, 2024. The number of SSMUH that will be permitted on a lot varies with the lot size and location. Examples of SSMUH housing types could include, but are not limited to: 

  • Secondary suites in single-family dwellings or duplexes
  • Detached accessory dwelling units, like garden suites or laneway homes
  • Duplexes (side-by-side, back-to-back, or up/down)
  • Triplexes and house-plexes
  • Townhomes

SSMUH offers housing options that are ground-oriented and compatible in scale and form with established single- and two-family neighbourhoods. The following residential zoning changes are required to be adopted by municipalities across British Columbia:

  • Permitting  at least one secondary suite and/or accessory dwelling unit (e.g. carriage house, laneway home) in all single-residential zones. 
  • Permitting  a minimum 3 units on residential lots with an area less than 280m2 (3,014 sq. ft.).
  • Permitting a minimum 4 units on residential lots with an area greater than 280m2 (3,014 sq. ft.).
  • Permitting  a minimum 6 units on residential lots with an area greater than 280m2 (3,014 sq.ft.) within 400m of bus stops with frequent service (15 minutes or less).

The Province is requiring local governments to adopt the new SSMUH zoning regulations by June 30, 2024.

Increasing Housing Options

The City of Nanaimo launched the ‘Increasing Housing Options’ project in 2023 to look at various recommended changes aimed at making housing more attainable in Nanaimo. The recommendations are in response to City Plan - Nanaimo ReImagined, where we heard the community's desire to prioritize creating affordable housing. Feedback was sought on four proposed changes in September 2023: Expanding Secondary Suite Regulations; Expanding Infill Housing in Existing Neighbourhoods; Expanding Family-Friendly Housing Options; and Creating Adaptable Housing Units. 

Shortly after, the Province introduced the SSMU legislation, impacting ‘Increasing Housing Options’ project. Many aspects of the SSMUH regulations are similar to what the City has been exploring through ‘Increasing Housing Options’, with a notable difference being the extent of land considered for a change in zoning.  While the City had consulted with the public regarding strategic areas for pre-zoning (e.g. in proximity to transit and services), the Provincially-mandated SSMUH regulations will apply to all restricted zones within the city. More information will be presented to Council in April or May 2024. 

Next Steps

Staff have reviewed the SSMUH legislation and its impacts on the ‘Increasing Housing Options’ project and will be presenting the proposed bylaw amendments in April or May 2024. This will allow consideration of adoption ahead of the June 30, 2024 Provincial required deadline. 

Stay Up-To-Date

As the City works through the changes needed to comply with this initiative, we want to ensure Nanaimo residents and businesses are aware of the related impacts and how they will affect our community. Information on the upcoming changes and updates will be communicated to the community both in digital and print formats. These include: the City's website, social media platforms, e-notifications (e.g. My Nanaimo This Week), press releases, online information sessions, handout and tax notice newsletter. Stay tuned!

Still Have Questions?

Provincial information on SSMUH can be found here as well as under the “Document” tab below. Questions about SMMUH can be directed to the BC Planning and Land Use Management Branch email:

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