Westward Independent

Bill 44: The NDP’s Authoritarian Densification of British Columbia

by Westward Independent
0 comment

At the end of June, B.C. NDP Bill 44 will come into effect, abolishing single-family zoning in all municipalities with more than 5,000 residents. City councils will be mandated to permit three to four housing units – in the form of secondary suites, laneway houses, townhomes, triplexes, and house-plexes – on residential single-family lots.

This dramatic densification will be accomplished through a significant seizure of zoning power from local communities. Towns with more than 5,000 residents will be forced to rewrite their community housing plans to follow a “policy manual” drawn up by the NDP. Rezonings conforming to these new housing plans – which will merely be local extensions of the NDP policy manual written in Victoria – will be automatically approved. This even extends to mixed-use developments where just 50% of the project is actually devoted to housing.

Public rezoning hearings will be prohibited outright – a boon to developers, but a major loss for local democracy. Residents concerned about the effect that a new rezoning measure will have on a particular neighbourhood’s infrastructure, traffic flow, or community character will be deprived of any way to express their opinion. Local governments will lose the power to tailor zoning to the particular character, culture, economy, history, and environment of their community. The province’s constellation of varied towns will be subject to a single zoning manual written by the NDP government.

This is the single-largest transfer of power from local communities to the provincial government in Victoria since B.C. entered Confederation in 1871.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie pointed out that replacing public hearings with automatic rezonings will mean the scrapping of traffic studies: “Are we going to assume that traffic will take care of itself?”. He also expressed worry over how municipalities would cope with the increased strain on infrastructure, water supply, and public services.

The NDP government is taking this dramatic measure because it wants to make housing affordable without confronting the root cause of B.C.’s housing crisis: immigration-driven population growth. What will abolishing single-family zoning and scrapping public hearings accomplish? According to the NDP government’s figures, 130,000 new housing units will be built as a result of Bill 44, in ten years.

From 2021 to 2022 alone, B.C. had a net international migration rate of 103,674. The number of units created as a result of Bill 44 will do very little to offset the need for new housing created by our province’s booming population. If unsustainable immigration-driven population growth continues, the need for new housing will keep rising, and future B.C. governments will likely enact ever more drastic measures to build ever more housing. Upwards, like the skyscrapers of Toronto or Hong Kong, or outwards, like the urban sprawl of Calgary. Probably both.

But how many people should really live in B.C.? Pre-contact population estimates range from 200,000 to a million. In 1941, the population was 817,861. In 1981, 2.74 million. In 2001, 3.9 million. Today, more than 5 million. Tomorrow? Canada’s taboo around immigration prevents British Columbians from discussing whether there should be a limiting principle to provincial population growth.

Many immigrants come to B.C. because they too love our land of rural agrarian communities, quiet semi-rural suburbs, wide open spaces, abundant nature, and rich farmland. We should strive to treasure and preserve these things as an inheritance for future generations.

Instead of steamrolling community autonomy and mandating development, Premier Eby and the B.C. NDP should pressure the federal government to give our province more control over immigration – as was rightly granted to Quebec under the Canada-Quebec Accord of 1991. This common sense approach would allow B.C. to tie our immigration levels to our housing capacity and labour needs – setting our province on a more sensible and harmonious path that works with communities, not against them.

I encourage concerned citizens to contact their local MLA and demand that they stand up for B.C. communities by opposing Bill 44.

Riley Donovan is a B.C. journalist and editor of the national online publication Dominion Review (dominionreview.ca). You can follow him on X (Twitter) @valdombre

You may also like

Leave a Comment

As a dedicated grassroots newspaper, we unearth exclusive valley stories and events that remain hidden elsewhere. With passion and fearlessness, we expose what happens behind closed doors, giving you a sneak peek into the heart of our community. Experience the pulse of our valley like never before. Welcome to a newspaper that punches above its weight, where local voices come alive with every turn of the page.

©2024 All rights reserved. Designed and Developed by WWIND.