Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Langley City Needs Provincial and Federal Action to Increase Housing Supply

Last year, the provincial government introduced the "Housing Supply Act," which enabled the province to set the number of new housing units that the province believes should be built in a municipality over a period of time. They rolled out the housing targets to the first batch of municipalities last year and are now rolling out targets to another 20 municipalities, including Langley City. Eventually, all municipalities in Metro Vancouver will have provincially imposed housing targets.

One of the main reasons for imposing these targets is to get some municipalities to streamline their development approval processes; I've heard horror stories about how it can take years to get a building permit in some municipalities. In Langley City, our development process is speedy and measured in months. However, I've noticed a slowdown in the number of development applications we've received lately.

When I asked some home builders why there has been a slowdown, they told me that interest rates, labour costs, and supply costs are the primary drivers for their slowdown.

I asked them about what government programs have been helpful. They pointed to the federal government's Apartment Construction Loan Program, which provides low-cost financing for rental apartment projects where at least 20% of housing units are priced to what a typical working household could afford. Continuing to make improvements and increasing funding for this program will enable more housing to be built.

BC Housing is the primary funder for traditional affordable housing projects, but it is known that they can be slow. For example, Langley City approved 981 units of seniors-focused affordable housing in 2021 for the Langley Lions Housing Society. It is now 2024, and phase one of the project has just restarted construction. The province must double down on efforts to speed up BC Housing projects.

Langley Lions Housing Society lots sit empty as it waits for phase two funding from BC Housing. Phase one is under construction in the background.

The Langley Regional Airport has out-of-date federal regulations that impose an artificial 12- to 15-storey high limit within most of Langley City, including near SkyTrain stations. We've been talking to the federal government, including going to Ottawa last week, to ask them to remove this artificial limit around our transit-oriented development areas.

Access to low-cost construction financing, slow BC Housing projects, and the Langely Airport's out-of-date high limit restrict housing construction in Langley City.

While municipalities don't build housing, Langley City will continue to do its part to ensure the speedy processing of building applications to ensure people have a place to call home. We will also continue to advocate and partner with the federal and provincial governments to reduce the barriers in our community and enable more housing to be built faster.


Anonymous said...

I think Langley is lagging to hit its targets, because more developers in the city are taking the fast and cheap way out, by building smaller wood frame condos and apartments instead of the taller concrete and steel frame that costs significantly more. Plus being hit with the height limit of fifteen stories, while in Fleetwood and Clayton they can go twenty to fourty+ stories.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree, it seems like such a wasted opportunity, when we can game more units right across the street from skytrain with taller buildings instead of such a small one. I was also under the impression that building within the 200m area had to be taller.