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Delta new OCP gets green light, could see refinements

Planning staff will monitor the new OCP’s impact on development activity and identify enhancements for council’s consideration
The updated OCP is to help Delta meet a five-year housing target given by the province as well as requirements of the provincial government’s housing legislation. Delta Optimist file

Delta council on Monday gave final approval to major changes to the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP).

Recent approval by the Agricultural Land Commission and approval by Metro Vancouver’s board of Delta’s updated Regional Context Statement allowed the city to proceed with the new OCP.

The new OCP follows council’s recent zoning amendment approval to permit small-scale, multi-unit housing on single-family and duplex lots, a requirement of the province for municipalities.

The bylaw also reduces parking requirements, removes regulatory barriers for construction and introduces additional density options to provide homeowners the ability to build necessary housing on their properties, the city notes.

The new plan identifies strategic growth in specific areas, including increasing density in urban corridors, simplifying land use descriptions to streamline the development process and provides the framework to enable small-scale housing.

City Manager Donny Van Dyk told council at its July 8 meeting that a lot of work remains as staff will look at possible amendments.

Last fall, the City of Delta was given a mandated housing target by the province to add 3,607 new units within five years.

According to the planning department, during the past five years, building permit activity generated an average of approximately 400 net new units per year.

In contrast, the housing target results in a need for more than 700 net new units per year, on average, over five years. The housing target order also phases in the annual unit growth.

The province recently released six-month progress updates on the first 10 priority communities selected for housing targets, which pointed out some are making good progress while others, including Delta, are not making as much progress as expected.

In response, Mayor George Harvie told the Optimist that relying on developers to complete approved projects quickly and then only counting the occupancy permits as a net new unit doesn’t accurately convey the story on what the city has done to encourage more development activity.