Province changes law to increase housing near transit hubs

British Columbia has made changes to the Transportation Act that will allow the province to acquire land for the purpose of building housing and community facilities near transit stations and bus interchanges. Rob Fleming, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, introduced Bill 16 on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

“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 amendments will give the BC Transportation Financing Authority the ability to acquire and improve land to support the development of housing and amenities near stations or interchanges built as part of the transit system.

Currently, the funding authority is able to purchase land for transit projects, but is unable to acquire additional assets to facilitate transit-related development, such as housing and other community facilities. This makes it difficult to shape growth around station locations, increase housing density, and help create complete, connected communities near public transit.

These changes will allow for the construction of housing in mixed-use developments, as well as day care centers, retail and commercial services, schools and health care centers, educational facilities, public gathering spaces and recreation centers.

The housing and amenities development aims to maximize the amount of residential, commercial and recreational space and other amenities near public transportation, BC said.

“This promotes the development of livable and compact communities, making it easier for pedestrians, cyclists or people using mobility aids to reach the nearest transit hub.”

Known as transit-oriented developments, these community hubs 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.

Delivering housing near transit hubs has been proven to increase transit ridership, the province said. 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.