B.C. CONSIDERING LEGISLATION TO HELP FIX CAPITAL REGION’S HOUSING CRISIS
It’s being seen as a shot across the bow of local municipalities. The province says not enough housing is being approved and built to keep up with demand.
Now, the minister responsible for housing says he is considering legislation to modernize processes in order to quicken building development approvals. This, if municipalities continue to drag their feet.
“We do see some areas where municipalities are simply refusing to approve necessary housing,” said David Eby, B.C.’s attorney general and minister responsible for housing.
“What we want to do is get to a place where municipalties could say where the housing should go, what it should look like, but not whether or not it goes ahead.”
A Greater Victoria housing advocacy group is welcoming Eby’s proposed reforms.
“The provincial government realized that housing reform is thoroughly needed, long overdue and something needs to change,” said Philip MacKellar, with Homes For Living.
MacKellar’s group says Eby’s statement is short on details, but they would like to see the province take on the ability to rezone certain areas of a municipality.
“Rezoning across the board would significantly help supply in the long-term,” said MacKellar.
As well, he would like to see a mandatory green-light on development.
“Which means if a development has been stalled for years and council still hasn’t done anything, it automatically gets passed,” said MacKellar.
David Screech, the mayor of View Royal, says Eby’s comments have shocked many councils throughout the region, including his own.
“The minister needs to work with us and not decree what is going to happen,” said Screech.
He says, if the province were to take control away from council tables, the impacts could be devastating on communities.
“I think there’s a very real possibility of neighbourhoods being drastically changed without the input of the elected people who have been elected to serve their communities and I think it’s unforgivable, frankly,” said Screech.
A local developer has a different take. It took Reliance Properties 10 years to get approval to go ahead with the Northern Junk building in downtown Victoria.
“There’s too much focus on fine-grain considerations and we’ve really gotten behind the eight ball with our housing supply,” said Jon Stovell, president of Reliance Properties.
The final result was a 75 per cent reduction in the building’s size from what was originally proposed.
“Ultimately resulting in just only 47 rental units entering into the market,” said Stovell.
He predicts that after the next municipal election, if councils haven’t committed to radically increasing the number of housing units being approved, the province will step in.
“I think you will see some action in the fall from the province to actually take over and impose mandatory targets on municipalities throughout the province,” said Stovell.
The attorney general says the province is currently reviewing all its options and will have more to say in the coming months.
Story by: CTV News