Housing affordability remains a critical issue in Squamish, affecting many in our community from our most vulnerable citizens to those with stable household incomes. We are responding to the need for housing diversity housing in Squamish so that all residents have the opportunity to thrive in our community over decades to come. This has been a strategic focus of the District since 2014. 

Squamish Needs More Affordable Housing

In 2019, the District adopted the Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan (AHSAP) which outlines a range of strategies and actions aimed at boosting housing supply and access to affordable housing options. One of the strategies of the AHSAP is to increase the affordable housing unit supply by undertaking related policy and actions. The 2023 District of Squamish Housing Needs Report (HNR) estimates that in order to address population growth, as well as the existing housing needs, 9,600 new housing units will be required in the next 13 years (by 2036), with an estimated 6,840 units needed by 2031. To reach the targets for new housing production, the annual production rate of housing must nearly double by 2031 and increase by over 60% overall by 2036. In order to facilitate the level of needed housing production within the constraints of an existing infrastructure network, the regulatory system needs to change along with strategic investments in infrastructure upgrades for infill development.

According to the District's 2023 Housing Needs Report:

  • A minimum of 6,840 new housing units are needed by 2031 at a range of affordability levels and sizes in order to meet the housing needs of the community in a high-growth scenario.  
  • 6,840 new units are needed by 2031, 42% of which will be needed to serve households earning below $70,000 per year. 

District Support for Affordable Housing 

In November 2023, the District of Squamish adopted unprecedented zoning bylaw amendments that will significantly reduce barriers faced by affordable housing projects. The District also removed the need for rezoning and other barriers to facilitate more affordable housing units with greater speed and density so that all residents can thrive.   

Learn more about Affordable Housing in Squamish

Housing Squamish 

In 2021, the District established the Squamish Community Housing Society as an arms-length non-profit housing provider to increase the supply, availability and access to affordable housing options across the community and the entire housing spectrum. The Society works to improve access to housing within the community, bring more affordable housing to Squamish and advocate for housing action 

Squamish Housing Actions

In the coming years, the District of Squamish will be implementing numerous changes to the housing regulatory framework to comply with recently adopted Provincial legislation, and to implement actions which were identified as part of the successful application to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF). 

Initiatives under the Squamish Housing Actions can be grouped under five categories:

Action Driver Completion
Update Single Family Zoning to permit four units on all RS-1 and RS-2 lots. Amend height, setbacks, lot coverage and density to align with Provincial direction. Provincial Direction Q4 2023
Pursue as-of-right zoning to allow for six-plexes along frequent transit network. Provincial Direction Q3 2025
Explore parking solutions, including eliminating and reducing requirements, and a permit based on-street residential parking in select areas. HAF Q3 2025
Update the Zoning Bylaw to eliminate the parking requirements for Accessory Dwelling Units. HAF Q4 2024
Action Driver Completion
Complete a feasibility analysis to identify municipally owned lands suitable for affordable housing development. HAF Q4 2026
Administer Pre-Development Funding grants to assist with predevelopment costs on identified District properties. HAF Q4 2024
Action Driver Completion
Remove the Advisory Design Panel review requirement for Development Permits for multi-plexes. HAF Q3 2024
Develop detailed plans for Accessory Dwelling Units through a design competition. HAF Q4 2024
Exempt Accessory Dwelling Units from Development Cost Charges. HAF Q4 2024
Boost internal staff resources to support permitting of Housing units including staff in planning, engineering, environment, and communications. HAF Q3 2024
Amend the Official Community Plan to remove Development Permit Area requirements for multi unit development with 6 or fewer units. HAF Q4 2024
Streamline Development Permit Area Guidelines. HAF Q4 2024
Develop and publish building permit design sets for triplexes and fourplexes. HAF Q4 2024
Action Driver Completion
Initiate a complete communities infrastructure review and analysis to identify and address infrastructure gaps including a review of sewer, water, stormwater, and transportation servicing. HAF Q3 2026
Integrate commercial zoning into new housing areas & existing neighbourhoods to support complete and walkable communities. HAF Q1 2026
Update Housing Needs Report based on new Provincial Guidelines using a 20-year horizon. Provincial Direction Q4 2024
Update Official Community Plan to address identified housing needs on 20-year horizon. Provincial Direction Q4 2025
Pre-zone land to accommodate housing needs for 20-year horizon. Provincial Direction Q4 2026
Action Driver Completion
Develop and adopt an Amenity Cost Charge Bylaw. Provincial Opportunity  
Complete a Development Cost Charge Bylaw Update to consider expanded scope under new Provincial Legislation. Provincial Opportunity  

Housing Accelerator Fund

In 2023, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) announced the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF), a new grant initiative to distribute $4 billion in federal funding to local governments and First Nations across Canada with the intent of encouraging governments to implement initiatives that will speed up housing development and increase supply at a local level through systemic changes. At least seven initiatives are required that will result in increasing the housing supply by 10% above ‘business as usual’ housing supply projection. Bonus funding is provided for missing middle and affordable housing units. The funds can be allocated to a wide range of housing-related projects and initiatives.  

HAF funding is performance-based depending on the number of additional units that will be expected as a result of implementing Housing Action Plan (HAP) initiatives. The grant funding is intended to be delivered over a three-year period. Advancement of later amounts is dependent on the success of the program in delivering new housing units beyond expected business as usual. The District’s HAF application commitments resulted in improving the as-is level of projected new housing units by an additional 256 over a period of three years, an improvement of approximately 18% (not enough to close the gap between projected supply and expected housing needs). It is the long-term impacts of systemic changes and strategic investments in infrastructure upgrades that are expected to close the housing needs gap. 

At the July 18, 2023, Regular Meeting, Council endorsed in principle the District of Squamish grant application for the CMHC HAF. The grant application was successful and on January 23, 2024, it was announced that the District of Squamish will receive $7,007,894 over a four-year period (2024-2027; $1.751M/year). 

Provincial Legislation

In late 2023, the Provincial Government passed legislation to support the Homes for People program: Bill 44 (Small Scale, Multi-Unit Housing), Bill 46 (Development Charges), and Bill 47 (Transit Oriented Development). Policy guidance and supporting technical documents were released by the Province in December 2023. This legislation outlines significant changes to municipal authority intended to support the expansion of housing supply within the province. Some of the implications include: 

  • Direction to update the HNR based on new methodology, 
  • Direction to update the Official Community Plan (OCP) and Zoning Bylaw to reflect findings of the updated HNR, 
  • Prohibition on public hearings for residential applications, 
  • New Provincial policy guidance on small-scale, multi-unit housing, 
  • Scope expansion for infrastructure eligible to be funded through DCCs, 
  • Introduction of a new mechanism to collect community amenities such as childcare facilities and libraries, 
  • Provincial designation of Transportation Oriented Development areas and provincial guidance regarding density changes in these areas. 

The new B.C. provincial legislation will help to strengthen the way we approach and manage housing delivery in Squamish, as well as broad public engagement through Official Community Plan updates every five years.  

Legislation now requires that a public hearing not be held for rezoning applications which are more than 50% residential and consistent with the Official Community Plan. 

The District is required to issue a public notice prior to first reading of a proposed amendment bylaw. Comments regarding the bylaw may submitted to the Planning Department at 604.815.5002 or by email to [email protected]. 

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