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Province to give Delta a housing target

A second group of eight-to-10 municipalities will be selected as cohorts later this year
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said the province will continue to help local governments speed up local approval processes. Province of BC photo

The City of Delta is one of the first municipalities that has been singled-out for a provincial housing target.

At an announcement in Vancouver on Wednesday, Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon, the provincial housing minister, named 10 municipalities that will have targets.

“The housing crisis is hurting people and holding back our economy, and we’re taking action with our partners to cut red tape and get homes built faster for people. Municipalities are our critical partners in addressing the housing crisis and building healthy, economically viable communities,” said Kahlon.

“Our government is eager to work with this first cohort of municipalities to get shovels in the ground faster and ensure the homes people need get built.”

In addition to Delta, the other communities that will be given targets include the districts of Saanich, North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Oak Bay, as well as the cities of Vancouver, Abbotsford, Kamloops, Port Moody and Victoria.

The province notes that the Housing Supply Act gives it the authority to set targets in 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 and 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 they 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 explains.

In an interview with the Optimist after he was named the first Minister of Housing, Kahlon said the new legislation giving the province the ability to set targets was needed in B.C.

“What we don’t want to do is leave the responsibility of bringing more housing to only a few communities. Everyone has a responsibility to be part of the solution. That is our focus. It’s not to be adversarial but we will have tools. I’d be shocked, though, if any of the mayors don’t want to be part of the solution,” he added.

Kahlon was highly complementary of the Delta’s efforts, which included undertaking a housing needs assessment, coming up with a new housing action plan to introducing streamlining measures including not requiring public hearings for applications that already comply with an official community plan. He also said Delta is clearly number one when it comes to dealing with the issue.

He also said the city has done a good job bringing different voices to the table to be part of community planning, while creating clear guidelines for the community, developers and not-for-profit sector.