City of New Westminster approves family-friendly housing bylaw
New Westminster, BC – On June 1, 2015, New Westminster City Council amended the Zoning Bylaw to require multi-family ownership projects to include a minimum of 30% two- and three-bedroom units, with at least 10% of the total project units being three-bedrooms or more. Multi-family rental projects will also be required to include a minimum of 25% two- and three-bedroom units, with at least 5% of the total project units being three-bedrooms or more. In endorsing the amendment, New Westminster became the first municipality in the province to mandate minimum percentages of three-bedroom units.
“I am very proud that New Westminster is being a leader in this area, and this bylaw amendment is a significant first step in creating a more family-friendly community,” said Mayor Jonathan Coté. “These new requirements will not only provide families with more housing options, but will also contribute to inter-generational neighbourhoods and stronger school enrolment.”
The bylaw was based on extensive research and consultation, including a feasibility study, a literature review and a survey of over 700 parents, children and youth. A focus group was also held with the New Westminster Urban Development Institute Liaison Committee, which was instrumental in informing the implementation framework.
“This policy will address affordability, which is an important consideration for families, by encouraging the two- and three-bedroom units to be located in lower priced per square footage portions of buildings such as at-grade or lower in buildings, and portions of buildings with less marketable views,” said Beverly Grieve, Director of Development Services. “The bylaw will be supportive of the Family-Friendly Housing Policy, which includes design guidelines which address affordability and livability considerations.”
The policy and bylaw are also supportive of the City’s Child and Youth Friendly Community Strategy, which will inform the development of neighbourhoods which better meet the needs of families, children and youth. The strategy, which will be forwarded to Council for endorsement in the fall, will help achieve family-supportive infrastructure and amenities such as child care, parks, playgrounds and recreation programming and urban and public realm design with particular attention to families, children and youth.
“This work is very innovative, as it takes a holistic approach to addressing the needs of families,” said John Stark, Senior Social Planner for the City of New Westminster. “By focusing on both housing and the neighbourhood context, we recognize that both are needed if the city is to be successful in retaining existing families and attracting new ones.”
The policy and bylaw come into effect on January 1, 2016 and will apply to all development applications with more than 10 residential units.