Housing and R2 Zoning


It didn't make a big splash in the news, but in December of 2019 the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in BC made substantial changes to the BC Building Code, which now allows for secondary suites in semi-detached (duplex) dwellings.

See the announcement here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/…/b19-04_info_lgs_secondary_suite_co….

Up until these changes, secondary suites were allowed only in single-family dwellings (R-1 zonings). But not longer.

That said, the City of Victoria has not yet changed its bylaws to allow for secondary suites in semi-detached dwellings. In Victoria, properties permitted to build semi-detached units are zoned R-2.

See the current zoning rules in Victoria: https://www.victoria.ca/…/zoni…/zoning-regulation-bylaw.html

This change at the provincial level is a really important step towards densifying neighbourhoods, and doing so in ways that are in keeping with the scale of residential neighbourhoods. A lot that is over 6,000 square feet and zoned as R-2, but which currently has a single-family home on it, can now be developed so that it has up to FOUR units on the property -- the semi-detached units (2 units), each with a secondary suite in the basement or lower floor (2 more units). That increases densification fourfold, and it does so without skyscrapers or buildings that will lead to serious pushback from neighbours.

I phoned city hall to discuss potential changes to bylaws related to R-2 zoning. What I heard is that they're talking about it, but that no decisions have been taken.

I think it's a top priority for the city and I'd be happy to champion a bylaw that brings Victoria into line with the BC Building Code and takes the pressure off of our housing market by increasing density and supply.