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$587K in Chilliwack coffers to update planning for more housing

Most of the provincial funding will go toward an OCP update in Chilliwack, years ahead of schedule
Most of the half-million-plus in grant money from the provincial government in Chilliwack coffers will go toward updating the OCP. (City of Chilliwack)

More than half a million dollars in provincial grants are now sitting in Chilliwack coffers to tackle the housing crisis.

Most of the funds will be used to update the 2040 Official Community Plan (OCP) in Chilliwack this year, instead of in a few years, council decided at the last meeting.

Chilliwack received word last December it would be allocated $587,196 in “capacity funding for local government housing initiatives” to update city bylaws, around small-scale multi-unit housing, and more, according the staff report.

The funds come from the $51 million in Local Government Housing Initiatives from the province, part of the sweeping Homes for People plan.

That means city bylaws will be changing to dovetail with provincial criteria, and municipal planning processes have to be engaged.

Council voted Feb. 16 to use the planning grants to update the OCP, as well obtaining a Housing Needs Report, and a Financial Analysis study.

Since the budget to complete the OCP review is allocated in the Chilliwack’s 10-year financial plan for 2027 ($175,000) and 2028 ($175,000), this grant is necessary to speed up the review, according to the staff report, as the project is anticipated to include infrastructure modelling with projected population growth.

Earlier this month, council took steps to comply with provincial efforts aimed at building more homes across B.C., by acknowledging Feb. 6 that the City of Chilliwack will no longer hold public hearings for any residential development rezoning applications that are consistent with height and density rules under the OCP.

The Homes for People plan saw several pieces of legislation introduced in 2023 to make changes to the land-use planning framework at the local government level, with the vision to allow cities like Chilliwack to see more housing built.

READ MORE: Chilliwack nixes public hearings to comply with B.C. rules

City of Chilliwack has to prepare for new legislative requirements under B.C.’s bold, new housing plan.

A review of the how the funding can be used was conducted, in terms of scope and guidelines, revealing several potential projects that would meet criteria, and as such, the following projects (totalling $575,000) were proposed using the city’s capacity funding allocation:

• Housing Needs Report - $50,000 - The province requires municipalities’ housing needs reports to be updated to forecast 20 years of housing needs by Jan. 1, 2025, and since there is “currently no budget allocated” to do this work, the grant would cover it.
• Official Community Plan Review - $450,000 - The province is asking cities to update their OCRs and Zoning Bylaws (based on the Housing Needs Report) by Dec. 31, 2025.
• Financial Analysis/Housing Initiatives - $75,000 - Land economics study and financial analysis to inform potential bonus density policy, amenity cost charge program, and an expanded development cost charge program.
What exactly is an OCP? Chilliwack’s 2040 OCP is a blueprint for planning how the community will develop in the decades to come. It maps out the long-term development vision of the community, providing guidance and direction to council, developers, the community and investors, through a statement of objectives and policies to guide decisions.

READ MORE: B.C. unveils ‘Homes for People’ plan

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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