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Standardized four-plex designs a ‘logical step’: Langley City mayor

Province to create library of basic building types to speed up housing construction
Illustrations of the type of designs that might be created by the province for standardized fourplex units. (Ministry of Housing/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

With single-family zoning about to be a thing of the past, the province is planning to create a series of standardized designs for new three- four- and six-plex housing units.

B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced another part of the plan for what it calls small-scale multi unit housing (SSMUs) the province will draft up to 10 standardized designs for the new type of homes.

“Having standardized building designs available can help streamline the permitting process,” Kahlon said in Thursday’s announcement. ”We will work to add additional designs in the coming years to ensure our communities remain vibrant and have a variety of housing options.”

A consultant group will work with builders, and the designs are set to be completed and released around the summer of 2024, the same time the new zoning rules are expected to take full effect.

The designs will comply with the BC Building Code, and be as close as possible to “building permit ready,” which is aimed at simplifying the process for both builders and local municipalities.

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Some communities have already created standardized designs, but the provincial project will allow for the creation of designs that can be broadly used, even in communities that don’t have the resources to create their own sets of plans.

That will benefit Langley City, said Mayor Nathan Pachal.

“We were already looking at fourplex designs,” Pachal said.

Before the provincial announcement earlier this month that they were essentially eliminating single-family zoning, the City had been going through a process to expand areas zoned for duplexes, townhouses, and other SSMU-like projects along 200th and 208th Streets.

“It’s certainly the next logical step,” said Pachal.

Standardized designs will make things simpler for builders who are working without architects, Pachal noted.

It may also help with the shortage of building inspectors that is challenging B.C. municipalities. It’s less involved to inspect a building based on a standardized design.

Langley Township Mayor Eric Woodward was less complimentary, saying he had “significant concerns” with the designs.

Although the designs aren’t done, graphics with the announcement showed a number of possible lot layouts for the SSMUs.

“I didn’t see a contemplated design with a cul-de-sac,” said Woodward. Houses on cul-de-sacs, like many in Walnut Grove and other 1980s and 1990s-developed areas of the Township, have a narrow frontage, and the lots are fan-shaped, wider at the back.

Woodward has expressed opposition to the end of single-family zoning. He said that it throws into disarray years of planning work fort the Brookswood-Fernridge area and parts of Willoughby. Areas that were planned for single-family, including their level of parks, playgrounds, schools, and sewage and water systems, may now have significantly higher density.

Woodward said the Township should be exempt from the new regulations, as it’s already building large amounts of housing, notably in Willoughby, with more planned for South Brookswood under just-completed neighbourhood plans.

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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