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Delta mayor says B.C. must help if city is to add 3,607 homes in 5 years

Under new housing targets released Tuesday (Sept. 26), Delta must build 514 units by Sept. 30, 2024
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced new housing targets for Delta and nine other B.C. cities in Saanich on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. The 10 municipalities will have five years to build a combined 60,123 units of housing – 3,607 of those in Delta. (Jake Romphf/Black Press Media photo)

The City of Delta will have five years to build just over 3,600 units of housing under new targets released by the provincial government this week.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced the targets on Tuesday, Sept. 26, saying the housing crisis is hurting people, holding back the economy and impacting the services residents all count on.

“We’re taking action and working with municipal partners to make sure more homes are built in communities with the greatest housing need,” Kahlon said. “The targets include thousands of below-market rental units for the largest and fastest-growing communities. This means more people will be able find a home in the community they love.”

Delta was among the first 10 municipalities selected for housing target assessment in May under the province’s new Housing Supply Act, along with Vancouver, Abbotsford, Port Moody, North Vancouver District, West Vancouver, Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay and Kamloops.

The 10 municipalities will have five years to build a combined 60,123 units of housing, representing a 38 per cent increase in overall housing over what the province projected would be built in each of these communities over that time based on historic trends, and 75 per cent of the identified housing need in each city.

In addition to the number of homes to be built, the province has sent each of the 10 municipalities a list of guidelines recommending the type of units needed by size (one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom), rental-versus-owned, below-market rentals and units with on-site supports.

Beginning Oct. 1, municipalities will be evaluated after six months and every year thereafter on their progress toward achieving the housing targets and the actions taken to meet said targets.

Another eight to 10 municipalities will be announced this year.

The province plans to announce another cohort of eight to 10 communities in late 2023, with 16 to 20 municipalities selected for housing targets each year over the next three years.

The five-year housing target for the City of Delta is 3,607 net units, meaning completed homes minus any demolished, with 514 units added by Sept. 30, 2024.

Under the new provincial guidelines, the bulk of the units to be built (2,021) should be studio or one-bedroom, while 904 should be three-or-more-bedroom and 682 two-bedroom.

As well, more than half of the new units (2,030) are to be rentals — 830 let at below-market rates, and 95 designated as supportive rental units.

SEE ALSO: B.C. announces measures to accelerate housing creation

In a statement released immediately following Tuesday’s announcement, Mayor George Harvie said Delta council is unanimous in its support for ensuring everyone, regardless of need, can find a place to live, but said the target is only attainable with direct support form the province.

“There is no doubt that Delta is in need of more housing to keep up with the demand and growth of our community and we look forward to working with the province to achieve this goal,” Harvie said.

Harvie’s statement was accompanied by the release of a letter sent to Kahlon on Sept. 13 saying that in order to meet the mandated housing targets, the city will need the province to provide additional funding, expedited legislative changes to facilitate housing, and refined methodology to measure progress.

In his letter, Harvie said meeting the target will require increased staff time to process development applications in a timely manner, track and report on the city’s progress and advance policy and bylaw changes to streamline approvals, as well as infrastructure, facility and amenity upgrades to support additional population, all of which will require investment.

As well, he said Delta will need financial support in delivering affordable and supportive housing, which has historically been a senior government responsibility.

Harvie also asked the province expedite previously-announced legislation that would allow multiple dwellings to be built on single detached properties and give cities expanded powers at the development permit stage allowing them to pre-zone neighbourhoods for growth, thus eliminating the need for spot rezonings and speeding up approvals.

The mayor also suggested the province use building permits to measure cities’ progress in meeting their respective targets rather than occupancy permits as planned, arguing the latter are contingent on external factors such as construction delays, interest rate impacts and industry responses to the market environment.

“Additionally, more complex projects involving larger numbers of units have longer construction timeframes by nature,” Harvie wrote. “Despite municipal efforts to expedite approvals, these projects may not achieve occupancy until many months or even years after permits are issued.”

Harvie said that with the city’s pending application to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Housing Accelerator Fund — a federal initiative that incentives local governments to increase housing supply and promote the development of affordable, inclusive and diverse communities that are low-carbon and climate-resilient — and the upcoming launch of the Scott Road RapidBus line, “Delta is ready to make dedicated efforts at achieving more rental, below-market and family-sized housing for our residents, with [the province’s] support.”

Speaking in Ottawa just before Kahlon’s announcement Tuesday, Premier David Eby said the province will work with cities to deliver on the housing targets and not “just leave them to their devices.”

“We are going to work with them every step of the way. If they are struggling to meet those targets, we will identify why and we will address it,” Eby said.

But the premier also signalled that municipalities must make a good faith-effort at meeting the targets themselves.

“To start on Day 1, to say that ‘we’re not able to hit those targets because x,’ is not going to be an answer,” he said. “We are going to work together, we are going to get through it…and I can say that the vast majority of cities are ready to go and I’m very grateful to those that are taking on this additional responsibility and we will be there to support them.”

— with files from Wolfgang Depner

SEE ALSO: $61M in housing help for B.C. cities on its way soon, premier pledges

James Smith

About the Author: James Smith

James Smith is the founding editor of the North Delta Reporter.
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