Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Provincial government to allow municipalities to eliminate development public hearings

Housing affordability spans a continuum from supportive housing for people with complex needs to subsidized housing, below-market rental housing, market rental housing, and housing ownership. Municipalities have some power to control the creation of below-market rental, market rental, and ownership units.

One of the ways to lower the cost of housing is to increase the supply. In some municipalities, red tape and unpredictable processes limit the development of new housing units.

The classic example would be the City of Vancouver, where housing projects have slow processing times at City Hall and unpredictable council processes.

Langley City has fast processing times, and if housing projects follow Langley City’s policies, a predictable council process.

The provincial government is looking to speed up approval of development projects consistent with a community’s Official Community Plan. Official Community Plans go through a comprehensive engagement and creation process. Langley City’s proposed new Official Community Plan started in 2019 and will likely be adopted next week. This process took two years.

In some municipalities, public hearings for projects can last for days and involve extremely heated conversation, even if a project is consistent with an Official Community Plan.

The province is changing the Local Government Act to give municipalities the option not to hold public hearings for projects that are consistent with their Official Community Plan.

The province is also changing the Act to allow municipal staff to issue development variance permits for minor variances to projects around the location, size and dimensions of buildings, parking requirements, signs, and landscaping. Today these must go to councils for approval.

It will be up to each municipal council in BC to consider whether to use the province’s new options.

Speeding up the time it takes for projects to go through City Hall and Council is only one part of the puzzle to building more affordable housing.

1 comment:

Shaun said...

It's disappointing to see this being dressed up as 'helping provide affordable housing' - this change will not lead to more affordable housing. This change will help developers make more money and faster. And that's it.