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Delta housing target 'challenging' but 'achievable'

Some of the actions will require changes to Delta’s current OCP
Planning staff note that work is currently underway in several areas including exploring pre-zoning of key locations to accelerate housing uptake. City of Delta report

Council last week did the expected in endorsing an action plan to achieve Delta’s provincially-mandated housing target.

The Ministry of Housing this year announced that Delta would be one of the first 10 municipalities to receive a set of housing targets and last month the government issued a formal Housing Target Order.

A staff report notes that the province has estimated that Delta’s total housing need is 4,809 net new units over the next five years. The housing target set for Delta by the province is 3,607 units, representing the number of net new units needed to meet 75 percent of estimated need.

The figure is the minimum number of net new completed units that in Delta within the next five years, ending Sept. 30, 2028.

In addition to the overall target, the province has provided guidelines for unit sizes and tenures, a breakdown that is not mandated but reflective of the province’s estimation of the types and tenures of housing that Delta should consider achieving.

The units by size include adding 2,021 studio/one bedroom units, with at least 727 one-bedroom, as well as 682 two-bedroom units and 904 three-bedroom or more units.

By tenure, 1,199 units would be market rentals, which could include secondary suites, while 830 would be below-market rentals, including 95 with on-site supports, and 1,577 would be owned.

“Creating 3,607 net new units over the next five years represents an increase in the rate of growth compared with previous years. Over the past five years, building permit activity has generated an average of approximately 400 net new units per year. In contrast, the housing target results in a need for over 700 net new units per year, on average, over five years…” the report notes.

“While challenging, recent trends suggest that Delta’s housing target is achievable with policy efforts, continued efforts to streamline application approvals, and investments in staffing and infrastructure to support development. At the same time, there are factors associated with broader economic trends that are beyond Delta’s control. For example, construction delays may arise even for approved projects in relation to the recent rising interest rate environment and challenges securing construction materials and labour,” the report adds.

According to the planning department, to support new units that better reflect the province’s guideline on 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.

The report also outlines a number of measures the city has already undertaken to speed up the delivery of more housing including removing the requirement to hold a public hearing for applications that are consistent with Delta’s Official Community Plan (OCP).

Noting the city “already has a robust Housing Action Plan and a track record of measures taken to accelerate housing growth”, the report recommended a number of actions including, among others, continued development application streamlining measures, reducing parking requirements introducing pre-zoning where consistent with the OCP and looking at small-scale multi-unit housing opportunities.

Staff also proposed expediting the OCP update process.

The city will also seek senior government funding as many of the action items would require municipal investments, such as further infrastructure planning and investment.

Meanwhile, the city recently issued a request for proposals from qualified consulting firms with an experienced team of planners, engineers, and technical staff to complete a review and update of Delta’s subdivision and development standards.