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Are more market rental apartment buildings on horizon for Delta?

Only about five per cent of the city’s housing stock comprises rental units in purpose-built buildings
The Tsawwassen apartment complex will be located on a property formerly occupied by a gas station that has been vacant since 2012. City of Delta report

Council last week approved an application to build a 48-unit market rental apartment building in Tsawwassen.

Located at 1467 56 St., at the southwest corner of 14B Avenue and 56 Street, the development will include 51 residential and five visitor parking spaces, with 34 per cent of all parking spaces to be provided as “small care” spaces.

An initial proposal for the site received preliminary approval by council last year, but has since been revised to reduce the required parking, which the planning department noted would improve the economic viability of the project to deliver rental units.

In December 2022, council approved zoning amendments to reduce parking requirements for purpose-built rental apartment buildings.

Meanwhile, another application is in the works to build a 56-unit purpose-built rental apartment building in Ladner.

That complex would be located at 4501 Arthur Dr., the site of the former Delta Lodge seniors’ care facility which is now vacant.

It remains to be seen how many new purpose-built apartment buildings will also be constructed in Delta.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported that the city’s vacancy rate was 1.3 per cent, whereas a healthy residential rental market typically has a two-to-three per cent vacancy rate.

Rental apartments comprise only about five per cent of the city’s overall housing stock.

The city’s Housing Needs Assessment, which guided the creation of Delta’s Housing Action Plan, found that the majority of Delta’s purpose-built units were constructed prior to 1980 and, while some new developments are starting to become available, not much had been added over subsequent decades.

Among the further housing actions the planning department will be bringing forward to council for proposed policy changes is density bonusing for affordable housing as well as purpose-built rentals.

A recent staff report notes that the incentive is a tool available to local governments that allows for the provision of additional density in exchange for certain municipal objectives, such as the delivery of key housing types.

The report also notes that in response to the B.C. government’s housing target mandated for Delta, and to support new units that better reflect the province’s guideline on recommended unit types, additional focus would be needed on market rental units, below-market rental units, including below-market units with on-site supports, and units with three or more bedrooms.

“Many of these unit types are less feasible for developers to construct and typically are not realized through the market alone. Rather, they require governmental intervention through policy requirements, incentives, site specific negotiations, and/or targeted investment,” the report adds.