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January 30, 2024, 2:03 pm

Secondary Suite Program Expands, Adds Housing in 16 Regional Districts

Ministry of Housing
VICTORIA -  More affordable housing options are on the way for people in B.C. as eligibility for the upcoming Secondary Suites Incentive Program (SSIP) is being expanded to 16 regional districts.

“We’re expanding the secondary suite program as part of our Homes for People action plan to support the supply of affordable long-term rentals in even more areas of the province so more people can access below-market housing in urban and rural areas alike,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “We’re using innovative solutions to make it easier for homeowners and communities to build homes faster, so people can live and work in the communities they love.”

The three-year pilot SSIP was introduced in September 2023 and is set to launch in April 2024 to support the delivery of as many as 1,000 affordable rental units per year for three years. To do so, the SSIP will provide approximately 3,000 homeowners with forgivable loans for as much as $40,000 to create a new secondary suite or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on their property. To qualify, the units must be rented below market rates for at least five years.

“Rural homeowners who want to create a rental suite and people looking for affordable homes in rural B.C. will have more options soon,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development. “The housing crisis affects all corners of the province. Giving people more options and support is important, and the addition of below-market rental suites and accessory units will help rural people, and communities, everywhere.”

Sixteen of B.C.’s 27 regional districts have the necessary building bylaws, and building-permit and inspection services across their electoral areas that make them eligible for the SSIP pilot. The Province will review whether it can add some of the remaining regional districts in years 2 or 3 of the SSIP, as either they do not have building bylaws and permit/inspection services or they are only provided to some areas.

“The availability of affordable housing is a significant issue throughout the province in both urban and rural areas,” said Jerrilyn Kirk, director, Regional District of Fraser-Fort George and electoral area representative for the Union of BC Municipalities board. “Regional districts welcome their inclusion in the SSIP as it provides another tool to help regional districts and their residents address this challenge.”

The SSIP applies to all 161 incorporated B.C. municipalities and will now also be available in the following 16 regional districts:
 
  • Alberni–Clayoquot
  • Capital
  • Central Kootenay
  • Central Okanagan
  • Cowichan Valley
  • East Kootenay
  • Fraser Valley
  • Fraser–Fort George
  • Kootenay Boundary
  • Nanaimo
  • North Okanagan
  • Squamish–Lillooet
  • Strathcona
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Thompson-Nicola
  • Peace River

“This is a great program and it will make a difference in regional districts, too,” said Ben Maartman, director, Area H, Cowichan Valley Regional District. “I’m glad to see the government recognize this and expand eligibility to include electoral areas, and I look forward to seeing the impact this will have on housing availability in our communities for years to come.”

To help homeowners navigate the process for a secondary suite, the Province released Home Suite Home, a comprehensive guide to build and manage a rental suite in British Columbia.  

To help streamline the permitting process for local governments and homeowners, the Province has launched a standardized housing-design project and is developing standardized designs that will be pre-approved for ADUs and small-scale, multi-unit dwellings. Four of these standardized designs and plans for ADUs are expected to be available to local governments by summer 2024, and will help homeowners and builders save on time and costs.

The SSIP project is part of the Homes for People action plan and the $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has more than 77,000 homes delivered or underway.

Quick Facts:
 
  • Legislation was introduced on Nov. 1, 2023, to allow secondary suites and ADUs across B.C.
  • The Province will review whether it can add additional regional districts in years 2 or 3 of the SSIP.
  • The Province allocated as much as $91 million over three years for a pilot project encouraging homeowners to develop new secondary suites in 2024.
  • There are approximately 228,700 units that could be rented out as secondary suites in British Columbia, according to BC Assessment data from 2022.

Learn More:

For information about the Secondary Suite Incentive Program and to sign up for updates, visit: https://bchousing.org/secondary-suite

To read the Home Suite Home guide, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/secondary-suites#suite

To learn more about the standardized housing design, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0158-001798

To read the Homes for People action plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436


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