Affordable Housing

Nanaimo’s Affordable Housing Strategy (AHS) provides a framework for the City to work with other levels of government, the private sector, and non-profit organizations to facilitate the development of affordable housing. The goal is to provide a range of housing types and tenures to meet the needs of Nanaimo residents. View this  infographic  to learn more about how Nanaimo is addressing the range of housing needs.

Increasing Housing Options

Increasing Housing Options’ is a set of four proposed initiatives to increase the types of housing options available to Nanaimo residents. Four projects are proposed which seek to increase rental housing stock and diversity by amending existing suite regulations, encourage gentle infill and intensification in existing neighbourhoods, and require much-needed family-friendly and adaptable units in multi-unit housing developments. Learn more here and complete the survey before September 29, 2023.

Housing Needs Report

In 2019, the BC Provincial government introduced a new Housing Needs Report requirement for all BC municipalities. Every 5 years, municipal councils must receive a report including data and analysis of local demographic and economic trends, as well as current and anticipated housing needs. Our Housing Needs Report includes data and analysis on the housing situation of Nanaimo residents, and an estimate of current housing needs and future housing demand in Nanaimo, based on the latest available Census data. For a summary of the findings and additional information, visit the Housing Needs Report Project Page.


The following initiatives support affordable housing and more housing options in Nanaimo:

Secondary Suites

In 2021, 64% of new single-family dwellings were built with a secondary suite. Since the adoption of secondary suite zoning in 2005, 3,661 secondary suites building permits have been issued by the City.  Secondary suites fill a key gap in Nanaimo’s rental housing market which is not calculated in CMHC’s vacancy rental rate.  CMHC reported 4,530 rental units in 2021, which means the number of rental units in the primary rental market may be closer to 8,000 units, illustrating the importance that secondary suites have on the primary rental market. For more information please visit: Secondary Suite Brochure. You may also be interested in the BC Housing Secondary Suite Incentive Program.

Coach (Carriage) Houses

Coach houses have been permitted in Nanaimo since 2008. In Nanaimo coach houses are considered a secondary suite in an accessory building. For more information please visit: Carriage House Permit.

Density Bonus in the Zoning Bylaw

Schedule D of the Zoning Bylaw contains a list of amenities that a developer can provide in order to achieve more residential units or density within a development than the base zoning designation allows (without requiring a rezoning process). Points are awarded for various amenities in Schedule D, and the developer must achieve a certain total of points to be able to gain additional density.

MOU with BC Housing

Since BC Housing and the City of Nanaimo signed the 2019 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) work has advanced to develop several supportive and affordable housing projects identified in the MOU. The 2019 MOU commits to developing up to seven projects for affordable and supportive housing across six identified sites in the city.

Row Housing

In 2012, the British Columbia Land Title Act was amended to allow the registration of a party wall agreement on the title of adjoining properties allowing for fee simple row housing, and the City responded by creating the Row House Residential Zone (R7) in the Zoning Bylaw. Several row house developments have been constructed in the City.

Short-Term Rental Regulations

The Short-Term Rental regulations allow the City to monitor short-term accommodations and protect the rental market by only allowing property owners to rent out a portion or all of their primary residence on a short-term basis (and not allowing short-term rentals of any additional residences). 

Development Cost Charge Bylaw Reductions

The “Development Cost Charge Bylaw 2017 No. 7252” contains a provision allowing for a 50% reduction of development cost charge (DCC) fees for not-for-profit rental housing when at least 30% of the units are secured with a housing agreement such that rent does not exceed 30% of before tax income.

Downtown Revitalization Tax Exemption Program

The City’s "Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw 2018 No. 7261" encourages multi-family units in the downtown area by offering a tax exemption, on the municipal portion for a 10-year term, for new multi-family units.

Rent Bank

A rent bank is a short term or temporary homelessness prevention tool that helps to provide housing stability for low to moderate income renters who are unable to pay their rent or utilities due to life circumstances.  The City partners with a local non-profit to deliver this program. 

Rent Supplements

Rent supplements are government-funded payments that bridge the gap between what an individual or family can afford to pay and what the actual cost of housing is. They are geared at reducing the cost to the rate of affordability wherever possible. The City partners with a local non-profit to deliver this program.

Housing Legacy Reserve

The purpose of the Housing Legacy Reserve (HLR) is for use as a resource for municipal support to affordable housing initiatives in Nanaimo.

Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) Policy

The CAC Policy outlines a monetary amenity contribution rate increase in January 2023, 2024, and 2025, and states that 40% of all monetary contributions be directed to the Housing Legacy Reserve Fund. The increased contributions to the Housing Legacy Reserve Fund will allow the City to support more affordable housing initiatives in the future. In addition, the CAC Policy states that the CAC rate is reduced by 50% for secured market rental dwelling units, and the CAC rate is waived 100% for secured non-market rental dwelling units to incentivize the development of these types of units in the city.

Contact Us

Community Planning 250-755-4464

Last updated: September 18, 2023

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