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'Gently' adding different housing in City of Delta single-family neighbourhoods

Gentle density to provide more options for current Delta homeowners to age in place
small houses in delta bc
A recent file photo of Kathleen Higgins (front) outside new North Delta small houses with her husband John and mother Kathleen Toth. A new form of housing for the community, the small homes they designed and had built were constructed for their family members. The little houses are on a lot where one larger old house had been located.

The City is Delta will be trying "gentle density" to improve its housing stock.

Currently formulating a new Housing Action Plan, planning staff last week provided Delta council with a report on the community feedback received on the recommendations in a draft plan.   

Among the recommendations is for Delta to introduce a policy allowing so-called gentle density, which had the highest response with 75 per cent looking upon that idea favourably.

Aimed at introducing greater housing diversity and affordability in low density areas of the city, the policy would see such housing as small houses on small lots, duplexes, coach homes above garages and detached suites.

The report notes that while most respondents were accepting of small increases in density, higher increases, which would include such housing forms as triplexes and fourplexes, were not seen as favourably.

“Street parking and existing neighbourhood character were common concerns among those surveyed, but the potential to create more affordable options for those interested in staying in the community or aging in place was also identified. The stakeholder group noted that gentle density options do not necessarily increase the affordability, and that community opposition may be present for infill development,” the report notes.

“Early economic input undertaken by the project team indicates that due to the high cost of land and construction, this strategy is unlikely to achieve significant housing affordability gains. However, it can provide options for existing homeowners to age in place or for additional units to be accommodated in single detached neighbourhoods adding to the rental stock, along with contributing to the variety of housing options available in Delta.”

The recommendations include the city exploring opportunities and areas to add density into single-detached neighbourhoods in a “sensitive way” as well as review existing duplex zone regulations to ensure they are aligned with the intended housing forms.

The community would be engaged in design concepts and forms that could be applied to single-family neighbourhoods.

Among the other policy ideas is for Delta to pilot so-called inclusionary zoning when it comes to higher density developments.

Inclusionary zoning policies require that new development include a certain amount of a “priority” housing type, such as affordable rentals, as part of the overall project.

The report notes most respondents supported the idea to require affordable seniors' rental, affordable family-sized units and accessible units.

“The ideas of meeting existing residents' needs and ensuring housing affordability were the most common comments from the general public, with the stakeholder group also identifying affordability and the impact on the development sector as key themes,” the report adds.

Staff note the housing plan is anticipated to be complete this summer with implementation starting thereafter.

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