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Housing applications to get approved faster in Delta

A report will be coming to council on how the city can further streamline its development application process
The Dunbar Lumber redevelopment proposal does not require an Official Community Plan amendment, which means a public hearing will likely be waved. Planning staff told council there would still be opportunities for the public to provide feedback on the application.

Housing approvals in the City of Delta are to be sped up even more.

During council’s discussions on a major new housing applications at a pair of meetings this week, staff noted a review is underway on how the city can further streamline the process. Opportunities will be outlined in an upcoming staff report to council.

The province last fall introduced legislative amendments to give local governments more powers to simplify and speed up their development approvals processes.

One upcoming change in Delta will see the removal of the requirement for public hearings for applications that comply with Official Community Plans, which could include the application to redevelop the Dunbar Lumber site in Ladner Village into a mixed-use development.

Council held its first committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday to hear from the applicant behind that proposal, as well as the proponents behind a pair of major developments pitched for North Delta that have not yet been submitted as applications.

Mayor George Harvie said it was an opportunity for council, outside regular meetings, to have fulsome presentations and discussions about housing proposals that are at an early stage and can get early council input, instead of going through a lengthy application process only to be sent back to staff for revisions.   

A new Economic Development Project Review Group, comprising the mayor, Coun. Dylan Kruger and senior staff, has also started looking at pre-applications and applications that are in an early phase.

Premier David Eby this week announced a series of further measures that will be in new laws aimed at improving the housing supply.

The housing supply act includes speeding up housing development and increasing supply by giving the province the power to set housing targets in municipalities with the greatest need and highest projected growth. Targets will be based on information provided by and in consultation with municipalities.

The new housing targets will encourage municipalities to address local barriers to construction so that housing can get built faster, the premier said.

The City of Delta has population growth projections but no set targets when it comes to housing. It’s not clear if the province will also impose a housing target for Delta.

The government also said it will continue to help local governments speed up local approval processes through the continued implementation of the Development Approvals Process Review and work underway to accelerate provincial approvals.

Eby also announced that housing will become its own stand-alone ministry as part of the government’s plan to address the housing crisis in B.C.