Affordable Housing

The Issue

A lack of affordable housing on the island is diminishing the community’s cherished social diversity.


Past decisions by municipal councillors who approved large developments such as Cowan Point, that did not contain any provision for affordable housing, have aggravated the current shortage. Affordable housing advocates who criticize the existing OCP as an obstacle to such housing, wrongly accuse the policy structure of being inadequate, when really it is past decision makers who have poorly managed the OCP that should be censured.

a house under heavy snowfall
Effective management of the future residential build-out is the key to increasing the amount of affordable housing as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Future development that is anticipated in the OCP build-out but not yet allocated in the Land Use Bylaw (LUB), should be re-directed into certain designated village or “hamlet” areas. This shift in planning for future development would lead to greater densification of these areas while ensuring less fragmented rural landscapes beyond the village boundaries. Redirecting future planned for development in this fashion would not add any additional density to that already anticipated in the current OCP.

However, because the Snug Cove Village Plan (SCVP), approved in 2005, already contains strong incentives for a more compact, energy efficient village, including density bonus incentives for affordable housing, Snug Cove should not be a receiver area for any additional density.

While developers within designated village boundaries could be offered density bonus incentives to build affordable housing, developers of land outside of village boundaries could be required to contribute to a dedicated affordable housing fund, administered by the municipal Housing Corporation. (See Land Use Bylaw (LUB).


  • A definition of Affordable Housing such as the following (from BIM Policy, June 2008) should be included in the OCP:
    Affordable Housing: Non-market residential dwelling units that may only be owned or rented under terms of a housing covenant registered on title in favour of the Bowen Island Municipality.
  • An affordable housing definition in the OCP should also indicate that such housing is to meet local demand, perhaps through waiting lists or other methods, not to induce demand for such housing from the mainland.
  • Redirect potential development identified in the OCP for lands outside of Snug Cove and Seymour Bay into certain designated village or “hamlet” areas. Because Snug Cove already has a comprehensive village plan (SCVP), including incentives for affordable housing, Snug Cove should not be a receiver area for any additional density beyond that envisioned in the SCVP.
  • Amend the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) to require that subdivision of land outside of designated village or “hamlet” areas must contribute to a dedicated affordable housing fund, to be administered by a municipal housing corporation.
  • Attached or multifamily housing, whether for affordable housing or market-oriented housing, should be located only in designated village or “hamlet” areas, integrated with market-oriented housing of a similar form and character. (See Rural Character and Building Form).