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Secondary suite program expands to North Okanagan

16 regional districts including RDNO added to Secondary Suite Incentive Plan
B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced Tuesday, Jan. 30, that the Regional District of North Okanagan is one of 16 regional districts around B.C. eligible for the Homes For People action plan’s Secondary Suites Incentive Program (SSIP). (Black Press - file photo)

More affordable housing options are in the works for North Okanagan residents.

The Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) is one of 16 regional districts added to the province’s Secondary Suites Incentive Program (SSIP). So, too, is the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO).

“We’re expanding the secondary suite program as part of our Homes for People action plan to support the supply of affordable long-term rentals in even more areas of the province so more people can access below-market housing in urban and rural areas alike,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing.

“We’re using innovative solutions to make it easier for homeowners and communities to build homes faster, so people can live and work in the communities they love.”

The three-year pilot SSIP was introduced in September 2023 and is set to launch in April 2024 to support the delivery of as many as 1,000 affordable rental units per year for three years.

To do so, the SSIP will provide approximately 3,000 homeowners with forgivable loans for as much as $40,000 to create a new secondary suite or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on their property. To qualify, the units must be rented below market rates for at least five years.

“Rural homeowners who want to create a rental suite and people looking for affordable homes in rural B.C. will have more options soon,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development. “The housing crisis affects all corners of the province. Giving people more options and support is important, and the addition of below-market rental suites and accessory units will help rural people, and communities, everywhere.”

Sixteen of B.C.’s 27 regional districts have the necessary building bylaws, and building-permit and inspection services across their electoral areas that make them eligible for the SSIP pilot. The province will review whether it can add some of the remaining regional districts in Years 2 or 3 of the SSIP, as either they do not have building bylaws and permit/inspection services or they are only provided to some areas.

To help homeowners navigate the process for a secondary suite, the province released Home Suite Home, a comprehensive guide to build and manage a rental suite in B.C.

To help streamline the permitting process for local governments and homeowners, Victoria launched a standardized housing-design project and is developing standardized designs that will be pre-approved for ADUs and small-scale, multi-unit dwellings. Four of these standardized designs and plans for ADUs are expected to be available to local governments by summer 2024, and will help homeowners and builders save on time and costs.

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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