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Community Comment: Good news on the development front

A diverse spectrum of housing options are needed to keep our city vibrant.
tsawwassen rental housing proposal

There is some encouraging news on the development front in Delta.

Preliminary filings are underway for a pair of much-needed purpose-built rental buildings. The first is in North Delta in the Townline Node area and the filing will reflect direction from the Mayor’s Scott Road Task Force and the in progress Delta Housing Action Plan.

The rental component of the application would consist of a five-storey building with 50 units.

The second application is in Tsawwassen at 14B and 56th and would also be five-storey’s and include 48 units.

There are many in our community who would suggest that these housing choices are not needed and would refer to the Southlands development, Tsawwassen Springs and housing developments on the Tsawwassen First Nation as fulfilling the housing needs in our communities. This is simply not the case, as Delta’s rental vacancy rate is one of the lowest in Metro Vancouver. A diverse spectrum of housing options are needed to keep our city vibrant.

Another aspect of housing that we should all be aware of, and sympathetic to, is secondary housing for farming families. Bill 52 has presented some challenging hurdles for families wishing to keep succession farming alive and as relevant as it once was. One only has to visit the Facebook page “ALR Connect” to read dozens of examples of dire circumstances amidst a minefield of regulations that confront the very people that are trying to feed us.

You would think that adequate guidance would be afforded farmers and ranchers so that they could bolster the $15 billion food economy while making a decent living putting food on our tables. Rather, the Agricultural Land Commission, who oversees the many convoluted rules and regulations within Bill 52, make some odd choices in their often expensive and time consuming processes, which are mandated by the Ministry of Agriculture.

One example which is replicated time and time again in commentary and in ALC applications for secondary homes on the farm “home plate” is the case of a ranching family near Smithers. Children of the farmers of a 500 acre cattle ranch, an hour away from the city centre, have to commute from their apartments to the ranch daily because the family’s application for a secondary home on the property was denied.

This is absurd. You wonder why young people are discouraged from continuing the family farm tradition.

The reverse situation is also daunting. Farmers who are wishing to retire often would like to spend their retirement on the land that they have diligently worked for many years while leaving the farm to the children.

Housing is a challenge for these situations and there needs to be far more flexibility given the importance of the industry.

Mike Schneider is founder of Project Pickle and likes to write about growing, cooking and eating food. He is a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution ambassador.