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Delta not on 'naughty' but 'good' list, says mayor

Delta is among the first group of B.C. municipalities that will be given a housing target by the province
The city has already implemented zoning changes and planning staff are looking further measures to implement recommendations in Delta’s Housing Action Plan. Sandor Gyarmati photo

The City of Delta has been put on notice that a target to create additional new housing will have to be met.

That’s what Mayor George Harvie told his council colleagues during their June 6 committee of the whole meeting as they heard about a proposal to construct a new residential rental building on Arthur Drive in Ladner.

“What I want to impress on council is that it’s a changing time right now. We’ve just been ordered, what they call the naughty list, (but) I don’t call that at all, it’s a good list, and we have to adhere to targets that the provincial government is going to be asking us to do. Not just on Scott Road, it’s got to be all through Delta,” said Harvie. “So, I really see this as an opportunity to ensure that we’re following these requirements. We are in a housing crises….coupled with the need for us to have rental accommodations available for the many people that are searching for homes. I had a person phone me on the weekend just for their daughter and son-in-law, is there anywhere that I knew is there a basement suite for them to rent.”

Harvie said bidding wars for rentals are happening in Delta, not just in Vancouver.

At a recent announcement, Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon who is the provincial housing minister, named 10 municipalities that will have housing targets, including the City Delta.

The province said the Housing Supply Act gives it the authority to set targets for municipalities, starting with those with the greatest need and highest projected growth.

The targets are to encourage municipalities to address local barriers to construction so that housing is built faster, including updating zoning bylaws and streamlining local development approval processes.

The province says it will consult with the selected municipalities to set the final housing targets. All communities will be encouraged to take the action needed to speed up local processes, and many already have, the government notes.

The province has authority to override municipal zoning and regulations if communities are slow to act to make changes. The act enables compliance options as a last resort, should municipalities struggle to create the conditions that are necessary to ensure housing gets built, the government explained.

Meanwhile, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) recently presented a series of recommendations to a provincial legislative committee to improve housing affordability.

The recommendations focus on adjustments to the provincial taxation regime to create more rental and purchase options for those looking for a home.

The REBGV’s proposals include an overhaul of the Property Transfer Tax as well as changes to the proposed anti-flipping tax.