Wednesday May 31, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 1:05 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The first set of identified communities where the BC Government is now expecting to see more attention paid to the creation of more housing supply was released today.
“Put simply, housing supply cannot keep up with the demand,” said Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon today in a news conference from Vancouver.
In just the last two years alone the population of BC has increased by 250,000 people and some cities are becoming financially impossible for workers and young families to afford a place to live.
“We’re taking actions to cut red tape and get homes built faster,” said Kahlon in his opening remarks. Municipalities will be encouraged to address local barriers to construction including “updating zoning laws and streamlining local development approval processes”. This is comes amidst the reality that there is high-demand (and shortage) for construction workers in many municipalities.
Kahlon said he hopes that among municipalities that the new directives will “hopefully inspire them to do this work”. This comes on the heels of the Housing Supply Act that was passed in November 2022.
Housing targets are being set for municipalities “with the greatest needs and the highest projected growth”. said Kahlon today. He said that the process was structured, thorough and measured to look at “availability, affordability and unrealized potential in delivering more homes for people”.
In a recent urban planning presentation in Langford (where growth has been robust), housing was listed as one of five crises that most municipalities are facing in BC at this time. The other four crises were noted as climate, inequality, public health and infrastructure cost.
List of indicators:
The Municipal Selection Index Indicators were weighted within three key dimensions: availability of right housing supply, urgent housing needs, and location. More specifically:
- Availability of right housing supply: dwelling to population ratio (10%), dwellings per residential land area (10%), density to reach affordability (10%), ground-oriented to multi-storey housing ratio (5%), renter to ownership ratio (5%), housing for workers and families (15%), proximity to amenities (15%).
- Urgent housing needs: homelessness count (10%), social housing waitlist (10%) – both of these relative to population size
- Location: rural/urban (10%) – with a priority on urban
Not just 10, but 20 more:
Perhaps the biggest new piece in this rollout is that another 10 municipalities will be identified later in 2023, and another 10 after that, said Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon today in a news conference from Vancouver.
The first set of selected municipalities where increased housing supply — including a broader range of housing types — includes both Vancouver Island and Vancouver/mainland communities:
- City of Abbotsford
- City of Delta
- City of Kamloops
- District North Vancouver
- District of Oak Bay
- City of Port Moody
- District of Saanich
- City of Vancouver
- City of Victoria
- District of West Vancouver
Kahlon said today that government and consultants will work with any municipalities that find themselves struggling with the notion or the mechanics of taking on this task to deal with producing an increase in housing supply.
Minister Kahlon outlined the current timeline for application of this new directive.
Government staff will meet with municipalities in two weeks. Then the municipalities will have a 30-day window to assess how they can meet the requirements. Progress updates will be expected every six months.
Notably in this first batch of selected municipalities, none of the south Vancouver Island western communities were on the list.
Arguably Langford, Colwood and Sooke have already been taking on a large load of housing growth in the past 10 years (driven in large part by the Capital Regional District (CRD) regional growth strategy (RGS) which has for decades pushed housing growth the ‘suburbs’ of the core area which is primarily Victoria, Saanich, and Oak Bay.
The CRD regional growth strategy was last updated in 2018 and further amended in 2021 to reflect population increases. The RGS applies to the following local governments: Central Saanich | Colwood | Esquimalt | Highlands | Langford | Metchosin | North Saanich | Oak Bay | Saanich | Sidney | Sooke | Victoria | View Royal | Juan de Fuca Electoral Area
That’s not to say Langford, Colwood and Sooke couldn’t be on the second list of 10, or the third list. But likely the criteria would be more targeted (e.g. affordable housing, social waitlist housing) as market housing growth is strong in those communities.
As well, mostly-rural areas like Metchosin and Highlands could see some expectations sent their way, to help support the need for young families within their populations.
While Vancouver and Victoria have clearly embraced the housing crisis to varying degrees in recent years, other municipalities have held onto some more traditional approaches to serving their populations with certain types of housing. Notable among that latter group is the District of Oak Bay and perhaps the District of Saanich, where the housing market investment is strong.
Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock was quoted in today’s BC Housing Ministry news release, in a way that indicates Saanich is already on board to be part of the solution: “This is a positive step toward creating more homes for more people to live in Saanich. We look forward to working with the Province to set targets and welcome their support to achieve our housing goals.”
Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch issued a statement: “The District welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the Province to develop housing targets and explore options for more diverse and affordable housing options that align with Oak Bay’s heritage and unique character. As the smallest community of the ten municipalities, capacity remains Oak Bay’s biggest challenge and the District looks forward to receiving the provincial modelling and having the Province as a partner to support reaching housing targets. Oak Bay Council has undertaken foundational work towards advancing Council’s Housing priority and has already identified related projects. The alignment of Provincial objectives with Council’s priorities presents synergies and opportunities to advance and explore possibilities to increase diverse housing within Oak Bay in a manner consistent with the guiding principles for infill housing recently identified by the community.”
Victoria is on board. “We welcome being part of a first wave of communities challenged to accelerate building homes for people. These targets reflect the city’s own commitment to housing current and future Victorians,” said Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto in a statement to Island Social Trends last week.
Refreshed housing action plan will apply BC-wide (April 3, 2023)
===== GOVERNMENT LINKS:
Backgrounder detailing municipality selection index indicators, visit:
About the Housing Supply Act, visit:
Homes for People action plan, visit:
Permitting Strategy for Housing, visit:
New investments in digital permitting, visit: