Blueridge and Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing

Editor’s Note: This page is home to our documentation about SSMUH, or Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing, a set of laws and zoning changes affecting all of BC that came into place in 2024. This documentation is updated and revised as new information becomes available. Currently the documents include:

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There’s a lot of discussion and concern about Provincial Bill 44, which changes how residential zoning is done in BC. In short, the bill requires the District to rezone all single family residential areas to allow Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing (SSMUH, pronounced “shmoo”). Stated differently, the District must now allow multiple dwelling units on what had previously been a single residential lot. There may be 3, 4, or 6 units allowed, depending on the lot size and whether or not there is frequent transit available nearby. Other key points:

  • All municipalities with more than 5000 people have until June 30 to adopt bylaws that permit SSMUH, and designating Transit Oriented Areas (TOAs) which allow much more dense development. That is a very short time frame to accomplish all the needed analysis.
  • In the DNV, the only TOAs are around Phibbs exchange and Capilano University.
  • No one is required to develop multiple units on their property, but if someone wants to add more units the DNV is prohibited from disallowing it if the lot is properly zoned.
  • These rule changes will affect many other bylaws: building heights will go up, FSRs (Floor Space Ratios) will increase, setbacks may be changed, tree canopy rules will be impacted, and so on.
  • Once these new bylaws are adopted, the new density is locked into place forever. If a municipality rezones an area in the future, residential density may not decrease.
  • DNV staff continues to evaluate the entire District to determine which areas are excluded from these rules for various reasons. A key concern is hazardous conditions, things like fire danger, geologic hazards, and flood hazards. These can be used to exclude areas from SSMUH development unless the risks can be reasonably mitigated.

As you can imagine, the potential impacts of this new law are large. Due to the tight time frame and the need to make the public aware of this as soon as possible, the DNV held public information meetings in April to share information with residents.

The District has also prepared a website providing more details and an introductory video:

You can also read the full report presented to Council on April 2nd (PDF). All of the above are excellent resources.

One key point is that municipalities may exclude areas from multi-unit development for a few specific reasons. One such exclusion is if the land is subject to one or more hazardous conditions. More specifically, situations in which the density increase provided by SSMUH would “create risk that cannot be reasonably mitigated”. In the map above, the orange areas are tentatively classed as exempt from SSMUH development because of fire, creek (flooding) or slope related hazards. In addition, other factors may add to the exempted areas. In particular, a transportation service review had not yet been completed when the map was first presented. Other factors could reduce the exempted areas over time, if a hazard can be mitigated in some way.

Note, this is still early data based on a high level analysis. It may change depending on many factors.

This tentative new zoning information for individual parcels is now available in DNV’s Geoweb property viewer. To check on a given property, click on that link to bring up the application. Move the map and zoom in to find the property in question, then click on the lot. A Property Information window will appear. Scroll down to the Regulatory section and note the “Proposed Zoning for Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing (SSMUH)” information for that lot. If you have questions or find errors, the District wants your feedback at

Items of note from the map:

  • Orange regions are currently excluded from SSMUH development as described above.
  • Blue regions are more challenging to service SSMUH development because of limited infrastructure (water, sewer, roads, power, etc.). Substantial infrastructure improvements will be required to support significant SSMUH development in these areas.
  • Green regions already have more substantial infrastructure, and are thus more readily able to support SSMUH, though infrastructure investment will still be required in those areas.
  • Blue dashed lines surround areas where 6 unit SSMUH can occur in the District.

Here’s a closer look at Blueridge, extracted from the map above.

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In Blueridge, all lots are large enough to allow up to four SSMUH units, but none are eligible for six units because Blueridge lacks frequent transit.

As you can see, much of Blueridge is expected to be exempt from SSMUH rules due to hazards, and the rest suffers from limited infrastructure that will make extensive SSMUH development difficult.


Community attendance at the public information sessions about these changes was high, and it is clear that District residents are paying close attention to this issue. Conversations with various people – both session attendees and District staff – indicate that a wide variety of opinions and concerns have been shared. These range from people asking why the District is letting the province impose these rules at all, to people wondering how quickly they can start working on their own SSMUH development. And from those worrying about the impact of SSMUH development on communities to those worrying about their properties being excluded from development and thus losing out on a potential increase in property value.

Interestingly, there seems to be a divide along generational lines. As a rule, older DNV residents are generally more concerned about the impacts of SSMUH development while younger residents appear to be more interested in seeing it happen. There is also a diversity of opinion about the law itself, with some seeing government overreach and large scale imposition of rules, while others are happy to see a government trying something new to address the housing crisis.

It is clear that we in Blueridge will not be of a single mind about these changes, or about what their impacts will be.

Though this ventures into opinion, your editor continues to believe that adding multiple units to lots in Blueridge and other outlying areas of the District will be relatively rare for the foreseeable future. No doubt a few will occur, but they will probably happen when an owner wants to build additional dwellings for family members, rather than be driven by speculators or developers. Property values continue to be so high that units built on spec will be both high in price and relatively small in size, a combination that makes them unlikely to be built at this time, particularly without ready access to transit. As a result, the town and village centres, the TOAs, and certain other areas in the District that are already more developed will probably see the bulk of SSMUH activity for some time.

But what actually happens remains to be seen, and no one really knows yet. DNV staff are at pains to point out that SSMUH development will be market driven, and what drives the market changes over time.

That said, in the long term, substantial change is possible anywhere in the District, including here in Blueridge.