Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

The B.C. government has announced changes to the building code that expand options for secondary suites in multi-family buildings.

The change will give local governments the choice to allow secondary suites in side-by-side multi-family buildings such as duplexes, townhouses and row housing.

The changes do not apply to apartment-style buildings where units are above or below each other.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing, while ensuring buildings in B.C. meet health, safety and energy-efficiency standards.

Size restrictions for secondary suites are also being removed from the provincial building code, which applies throughout B.C. except for some federal lands and the City of Vancouver.

The provincial code does not set a minimum size, which means local governments may set their own restrictions for secondary suites.

ALSO READ: B.C. gets top marks in national energy efficiency report card

David Hutniak, chief executive officer of LandlordBC, says he supports the move because those secondary suites represent about two-thirds of all rental housing.

“We need more homes, more rental homes, and we’re not building tonnes of purpose-built rental, which is really what we would like to see more of,” he said.

It will be up to municipalities to decide whether to embrace the changes and amend zoning and development bylaws to allow the secondary suites.

Earlier this year, the province also announced it was changing the building code to allow 12-storey wood buildings, up from the previous limit of six storeys.

Mass timber construction refers to buildings in which the primary load-bearing structure is made of solid or engineered wood. It has a reduced carbon footprint when the wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests, and these buildings can be one-fifth the weight of comparable concrete structures, the ministry says.

The province has also introduced new requirements for public-sector buildings as part of its energy step code, a voluntary standard for energy efficiency that local governments and builders can opt in to. Rather than specifying how to construct a building, the energy step code identifies an efficiency target and allows the builder to decide how to meet it.

There are now energy step code requirements for hospitals, schools, community centres and university classrooms, in part of an effort to make new buildings in B.C. net-zero energy ready by 2032, the province says

The changes to the B.C. building code are set to apply to building permit applications on or after Dec. 12.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford author Katrina Wiggins has been shortlisted for the Page Turner Award eBook Award for her young adult novel, Blind the Eyes.
Abbotsford author shortlisted for literary award for young adult novel

Katrina Wiggins’ book Blind the Eyes is about climate crisis and monsters

Abbotsford’s Devon Toews has signed with the Colorado Avalanche for four years. (Avalanche Twitter photo)
Abbotsford’s Devon Toews signs with Colorado Avalanche

Local product inks four-year deal worth $4.1 million annually

Abbotsford’s Kira Peary has been named the 2020 John Cannon Memorial Fund scholarship winner. (Armando Tura/UVic)
Abbotsford’s Kira Peary earns John Cannon Memorial Fund scholarship

Robert Bateman Secondary School grad takes home fourth annual Cannon award

Archway Community Services in Abbotsford. (Photo courtesy of Archway)
New program in Abbotsford offers support for young parents

Archway Community Services provides outreach, including classes and referrals

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Mt. Cheam closes for COVID-19 isolation measures, moving to online learning

School principal confirms coronavirus exposure led to staffing reduction and need to close

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

The voting station mimicked a real voting station in Nicole Choi’s classroom at Chilliwack middle school on Oct. 22, 2020, where students had to show their ID (student cards), be checked off a list, and mark a secret ballot behind a screen. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. students choose NDP majority in mock election

More than 90,000 youth took part in school-based election process

Crew transport bus at the Trans Mountain pipeline project work site in Burnaby, March 2020. (Trans Mountain)
Check your workplace COVID-19 safety plans, Dr. Henry urges

Masks in public spaces, distance in lunchrooms for winter

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

Kelowna City Hall has been vandalized overnight. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna City Hall hit by anti-pandemic vandalism

Graffiti condemning the virus appears overnight on City Hall

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

FILE – A woman smokes a marijuana joint at a “Wake and Bake” legalized marijuana event in Toronto on October 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Home nurse visits could play big role in reducing cannabis use, smoking in young mothers

The program, dubbed the BC Healthy Connections Project, involves public health nursing home visits

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The RCMP photo shows cannabis that was seized as part of the E-Prominent investigation. (RCMP)
Four Langley and Surrey men charged in 2019 pot export case

Warrants were executed on properties in Surrey, Langley and Delta in June and August 2019

Most Read