British Columbia introduces legislation to stimulate housing development around public transit

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s transportation law is undergoing updates aimed at boosting housing near transit stations.

The province announced that it has introduced changes that will allow the BC Transportation Financing Authority to obtain land to build housing and community amenities near any train stations or interchanges.

The changes, which are part of Bill 16, were tabled earlier this month by Transport Minister Rob Fleming.

“Public transit isn’t just about getting people from point A to point B, it’s also about building greener, more livable communities,” said Fleming. “We will increase the level of affordable housing and services that are integrated with our significant investments in public transit.

The current law only allows the funding authority to purchase land for transportation projects, not for transit-related development. The province said it’s challenging to shape growth around station locations, increase housing density and help create complete, connected communities near public transit.

Officials said Bill 16 will allow for the construction of housing in mixed-use developments, as well as day care centers, commercial stores and services, schools and health care centers, educational facilities, public gathering spaces and recreation centers.

The province said these transit-oriented developments are typically located within 800 meters of transit stations, the outdoor distance from which people can easily access transit by walking, pedaling or using a mobility device.

The province added that the BC Transportation Financing Authority will be able to make these projects happen by working with local governments and a wide range of partners to create livable, transit-friendly communities.

Officials explained that housing developments near transit hubs have been shown to increase transit ridership. For example, the Marine Gateway housing and amenities development near Cambie Street and Southwest Marine Drive contributed to a 35% increase in ridership at the Marine Drive transit station.