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Nov 07, 2017 Return to Headlines

Planned Bylaw Changes Support Housing Affordability

by Robbin Whachell |

COQUITLAM, BC, Nov. 7, 2017 – Coquitlam plans to move ahead with bylaw changes intended to encourage more rental developments – the latest of the City’s successful housing affordability efforts. 

City Council gave first reading Monday night to a series of Zoning and Official Community Plan bylaw updates stemming from Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy (HAS), adopted in December 2015 to expand the variety of housing types, sizes, prices and tenures available in the City.

More than 2,000 new market and 140 below-market (subsidized) rental units have begun the development process since HAS was adopted. In roughly the decade prior, three large BC Housing projects were developed, but little market rental housing. 

The proposed bylaw amendments, which goes to public hearing on Nov. 27, 2017, are the last of the top-10 priorities in the HAS two-year implementation plan.

The planned changes are based on an in-depth review of the Zoning Bylaw and Official Community Plan to find ways to encourage more purpose-built rental housing, and include:

  • Recognition of purpose-built market rental units as a type of affordable housing;
  • Reduced parking and common amenity area requirements in purpose-built rental buildings;
  • Clarified definitions and rules intended to encourage innovative unit types, including studios, lock-off units (extra rentable studio units within a strata unit), micro-suites and accessible/special needs suites;
  • Incentives such as extra density (the ability to build more units within an area) for development of “Priority Unit Types” such as accessible, adaptable, three-bedroom, below-market and non-market rental units; and
  • Additional density incentives for Priority Unit Types in the Comprehensive

Development zone, which allows mixed uses such as commercial and housing.

Other planned clarifications, based on what the City learned during the HAS rollout and from other cities, would:

  • Set a minimum unit size of 29 square metres (312 square feet);
  • Cap the percentage of studio apartments in a building at 30 per cent; and
  • Further clarify how developments can qualify for extra density or fee-waiving. 

The bylaw review involved a close look at Coquitlam’s bylaws and policies, a survey of best practices and approaches by other cities, workshops with an interdepartmental working group, review of HAS-related development applications, and meetings with developers and housing operators. The proposed changes were also presented to the Urban Development Institute, a non-profit industry organization, for feedback. 

The HAS implementation has been a top priority for Coquitlam. In the last two years, the City has introduced a variety of measures to promote housing affordability, including:

  • Providing density and fee-waiving incentives for new rental buildings;
  • Requiring rental and co-op sites that redevelop to create a plan to help displaced tenants find new homes;
  • Exploring partnerships with senior governments, agencies and organizations to encourage market and non-market housing projects; and
  • Growing and leveraging the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund to promote the development of housing options. 

Following the completion of the top 10 priorities, the City will continue to work through the other actions in the HAS implementation plan, including strategies to address homelessness.

To learn more about the Housing Affordability Strategy and implementation, visit


Media contact:
Andrew Merrill
Manager, Community Planning


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