Province to increase housing, services near transit hubs

THE provincial government has introduced changes to the Transportation Act that will allow the Province, through the BC Transportation Financing Authority, to acquire land for the purpose of building housing and community amenities to serve people near transit stations and bus exchanges.

Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, tabled Bill 16 on Tuesday.

“Public transit isn’t just about getting people from A to B, it’s also about building greener and more liveable communities,” said Fleming. “We will increase the level of affordable housing and services that are integrated into our significant investments in transit.”

These amendments will give the BC Transportation Financing Authority the ability to acquire and improve land to support the development of housing and amenities near any stations or exchanges built as part of the public transit system.

Currently, the financing authority is able to purchase land for transportation projects but is not able to acquire additional property to facilitate transit-related development, such as housing and other community amenities. This has made it challenging to shape growth around station sites, increase housing density and help create complete, connected communities close to transit.

These changes will allow housing to be built in mixed-use developments, along with child care centres, shops and commercial services, schools and health-care centres, educational facilities, public gathering spaces and recreation centres.

Housing and amenities development is meant to maximize the amount of residential, business and leisure space and other amenities in close proximity to public transport. This promotes the development of livable, compact communities making it convenient for pedestrians, cyclists or people who use mobility aids to access the nearest transit hub.

Known as transit-oriented developments, these community hubs are typically located within an 800-metre radius of transit stations, the outside distance from which people can easily access public transit by walking, pedalling or using a mobility device.

These legislative changes will support current and future transit investments while addressing key government priorities, including building new housing, creating jobs, building liveable communities, reducing costs for families and achieving the Province’s CleanBC climate-change targets.

The Province, through the BC Transportation Financing Authority, will deliver these projects by working with local governments and a broad range of partners to achieve liveable, transit-supportive communities.

Delivering housing near transit hubs is proven to increase transit ridership. For example, the Marine Gateway housing and amenities development near Cambie Street and Southwest Marine Drive contributed to a 35% increase in ridership at the Marine Drive transit station.