Family Friendly Housing Policy Update

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Project Update, June 26, 2024: Thank you all for your valuable input on the Family Friendly Housing Policy update. This engagement has now concluded, and our team is now working on reporting and refining the policy based on the feedback received. Please visit this page in early Fall 2024 to review the full policy update.



The City of New Westminster’s Family Friendly Housing Policy came into effect in 2016. It marked the City as the first municipality in British Columbia to require a minimum percentage of three-bedroom units in new residential development projects including townhouses and apartment buildings. For ownership projects, 30% of units must have two or three bedrooms, while rental projects must have a minimum of 25% of such units. The Policy also provides guidance on bedroom design and size, and unit location within the building or site.

Cover of The City of New Westminster’s Family Friendly Housing Policy The Policy was created alongside the City’s Child and Youth Friendly Community Strategy. At the time, the community was consulted for both projects, which found that 50.7% of parents who participated in the process reported that their housing situation "somewhat" or "did not meet" their family’s needs. Extensive research was also part of the process. The research was focused on: the financial viability of three-plus bedroom units; case studies of similar policies in Canada; and design guidelines for family living. The work was supported by the Society for Children and Youth of BC.

Click here to read the 2016 Policy.


Why do we need a policy update?

In the years since the Family Friendly Housing Policy was adopted, it has been found that 60% of the family units created in townhouses or townhouse-style homes at the base of a multi-unit building are increasingly becoming more expensive. In new apartment buildings, two and three-bedroom units are mainly on the higher and more expensive floors. The increased expense can greatly add to the cost of living for families with children.

Also observed in the results of the Policy is that the size of units, amenity spaces, and storage spaces were often minimized in order to optimize the total number of units in a project. This can impact the functionality and livability of units for families with children.

In response, the City is updating the Family Friendly Housing Policy. The goal is to better align design details with today’s family’s needs and current economic conditions. The upcoming policy work involves looking to other cities to learn how they plan for families in multi-unit buildings. An interesting example is Toronto with its Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities Guidelines. We are also working with an economic consultant to understand the policy’s potential impact under current housing market conditions.


How can I provide input?

The City hosted an online discussion with community members in May and June 2024 on what design details are most important in multi-unit housing for family livability. Click here to access the discussion questions and participants' responses (click "Go to Discussion" button to see responses).

The City is also consulting with local community groups, partners and organizations, and the development community.


How will my input be used?

Input gathered through Be Heard and other activities will help us understand the needs of local families living in multi-unit buildings. That understanding will shape the changes and updates made to the 2016 Policy. The results of the consultation, and how it informed the update, will be summarized and shared in a report to Council and on this webpage later in 2024.


Project Update, June 26, 2024: Thank you all for your valuable input on the Family Friendly Housing Policy update. This engagement has now concluded, and our team is now working on reporting and refining the policy based on the feedback received. Please visit this page in early Fall 2024 to review the full policy update.



The City of New Westminster’s Family Friendly Housing Policy came into effect in 2016. It marked the City as the first municipality in British Columbia to require a minimum percentage of three-bedroom units in new residential development projects including townhouses and apartment buildings. For ownership projects, 30% of units must have two or three bedrooms, while rental projects must have a minimum of 25% of such units. The Policy also provides guidance on bedroom design and size, and unit location within the building or site.

Cover of The City of New Westminster’s Family Friendly Housing Policy The Policy was created alongside the City’s Child and Youth Friendly Community Strategy. At the time, the community was consulted for both projects, which found that 50.7% of parents who participated in the process reported that their housing situation "somewhat" or "did not meet" their family’s needs. Extensive research was also part of the process. The research was focused on: the financial viability of three-plus bedroom units; case studies of similar policies in Canada; and design guidelines for family living. The work was supported by the Society for Children and Youth of BC.

Click here to read the 2016 Policy.


Why do we need a policy update?

In the years since the Family Friendly Housing Policy was adopted, it has been found that 60% of the family units created in townhouses or townhouse-style homes at the base of a multi-unit building are increasingly becoming more expensive. In new apartment buildings, two and three-bedroom units are mainly on the higher and more expensive floors. The increased expense can greatly add to the cost of living for families with children.

Also observed in the results of the Policy is that the size of units, amenity spaces, and storage spaces were often minimized in order to optimize the total number of units in a project. This can impact the functionality and livability of units for families with children.

In response, the City is updating the Family Friendly Housing Policy. The goal is to better align design details with today’s family’s needs and current economic conditions. The upcoming policy work involves looking to other cities to learn how they plan for families in multi-unit buildings. An interesting example is Toronto with its Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities Guidelines. We are also working with an economic consultant to understand the policy’s potential impact under current housing market conditions.


How can I provide input?

The City hosted an online discussion with community members in May and June 2024 on what design details are most important in multi-unit housing for family livability. Click here to access the discussion questions and participants' responses (click "Go to Discussion" button to see responses).

The City is also consulting with local community groups, partners and organizations, and the development community.


How will my input be used?

Input gathered through Be Heard and other activities will help us understand the needs of local families living in multi-unit buildings. That understanding will shape the changes and updates made to the 2016 Policy. The results of the consultation, and how it informed the update, will be summarized and shared in a report to Council and on this webpage later in 2024.

Ask a Question about the Family Friendly Policy Update

Have a question about the Family Friendly Housing Policy Update? Please add it here and press submit. We will aim to reply within 5 business days. Sometimes answers require information from multiple sources and it could take us longer to reply. If we think your question may be of interest to others, we'll post your question and our response here. Thank you for taking the time to write to us!

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Page last updated: 26 Jun 2024, 10:49 AM