Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing (SSMUH) Residential Zone

Zoning Amendment Bylaw 3135

File No: RZ00081
Bylaw Number: 3135, 2024

The provincial government has enacted the provincial Housing Statutes (Residential Development) Amendment Act (Bill 44 Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing - SSMUH) which requires that local governments permit up to four small-scale multi-unit housing units on properties exclusively zoned for single residential or duplex use. Local governments must amend zoning bylaws to conform to the legislation no later than June 30, 2024. 

Provincial legislation prohibited the holding of a public hearing to adopt zoning amendments required by Bill 44, and instead provided public notice and opportunity to comment. The public notice period closed on May 22, at 1:00 pm.

At the June 12, 2024 regular Council meeting, Council adopted Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 3135, 2024. The amendment bylaw amended Zoning Bylaw No. 2500, 2007 to create a new Residential Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing zone (R-SSMUH) that replaceed 16 existing residential zones comprising of approximately 5648 properties. The zones are: R-1, R-1B, R-1C, R-1D, R-1E, R-1S, R-2, R-2A, R-2B, RR-1, RR-2, RR-2S, RR-3, RR-4, RR-5, and R-RU. In addition, 15 properties not suitable for SSMUH zoning were zoned to an appropriate alternate zone. The amendment bylaw also included a number of targeted changes to SSMUH related definitions, parking regulations, and the general interpretation section of the Zoning Bylaw.

The new R-SSMUH can be viewed here:  R-SSMUH [PDF - 146 KB]

The full consolidated Zoning Bylaw No. 2500, 2007 is available on the Zoning Bylaw page.

Provincial Bill 44 (Residential Development Amendment Act)

As of November 30, 2023, public hearings are no longer permitted for zoning amendments for residential developments that are consistent with the Official Community Plan. This places more emphasis on public input during the creation of an Official Community Plan and not during individual rezoning applications.

By June 30, 2024, zoning amendments must be adopted to allow for Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing (SSMUH) in communities greater than 5,000 in population. Up to four dwelling units may be permitted on existing serviced lots larger than 280 m² (0.069 acre) that are currently zoned for single family or duplex use.

By December 31, 2024, an interim housing needs report must be completed and projected for 20 years. It requires updating every 5 years.

By December 31, 2025, a new Official Community Plan must be adopted and projected for 20 years. It requires updating every 5 years and must integrate the findings from the housing needs report. A Zoning Amendment Bylaw will also be required in parallel with the new Official Community Plan.

What is Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing (SSMUH)

Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing (SSMUH) refers to a range of buildings and dwelling unit configurations that can provide more affordable and attainable housing for middle-income families. Examples of SSMUH include, but are not limited to:

  • Secondary suites in single-family dwellings;
  • Detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs), like garden suites or laneway homes;  
  • Duplexes (side-by-side or up/down);
  • Triplexes and fourplexes; and
  • Townhomes.

For more information and resources view the Province of B.C.'s Small-scale, multi-unit housing page.

Why is the Province introducing SSMUH requirements?

Single-family detached homes are out of reach for many people in a growing number of BC communities. However, zoning regulations that exclusively permit single-family detached homes often cover 70-85% of the privately held residential land base in communities. Not only are less expensive multi-unit forms of housing not permitted in most areas of our communities, but they are also subjected to more layers of process and regulations like rezoning and design requirements.

The Province considers that the current approach to zoning regulations limits the diversity of housing supply required in BC communities. Through the SSMUH legislation, the Province is aiming to increase housing supply, create more diverse housing choices, and over time, contribute to more affordable housing across BC.

What does this mean for Courtenay?

Most existing single family and duplex zoned properties will be consolidated into a single "Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing (SSMUH)" zone for clarity and simplicity.

These properties will be able to have up to four units of any configuration, such as:

  • Four-unit townhouse
  • Two houses with suites
  • Four small houses
  • Duplex with suites

The City is preparing amendments to Zoning Bylaw 2500, 2007 that will align existing regulations with provincial legislation and identifying properties for inclusion in the rezoning amendment.

The province has produced a SSMUH policy manual which provides recommendations for parking, setbacks, building heights and other provisions that must be considered during the preparation of the required zoning amendments. View the Provincial Policy Manual & Site Standards: Small-Scale, Multi-Unit Housing.

More Information:

May 22 Staff Report on Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing Regulations [PDF - 693 KB]
May 8 Staff Report on Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing Regulations [PDF - 1 MB]
May 8 Presentation on Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing Regulations [PDF - 1 MB]
Watch the SSMUH presentation to Council at the May 8th Meeting