Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay will collectively have to churn out almost 10,200 new homes in the next five years to stay in the province’s good graces.
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon was in Saanich on Tuesday (Sept. 26) as he unveiled the number of homes each of the first 10 communities subject to the province’s Housing Supply Act will have to deliver over the next half-decade.
Those targets will see Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay have to deliver 4,902, 4,610 and 664 units, respectively.
The province said it consulted with communities on the targets over the summer and sent each a list of guidelines on the recommended number of units by size, rental-versus-owned units and below-market rental units.
“We’re taking action and working with municipal partners to make sure more homes are built in communities with the greatest housing need,” Kahlon said. “This means more people will be able find a home in the community they love.”
The minister said Saanich’s actions recognize the seriousness of the housing crisis as he was flanked by Mayor Dean Murdock and other district officials.
Tripling housing permits over five years will be a challenge that will require resource support from the province, the mayor said.
“We will create more homes for more people, more quickly,” Murdock said.
Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch said in a statement the district is “pleased to have the targets released and both excited and committed to building homes the region and our community needs.”
Oak Bay sent a letter to Kahlon saying its “very limited” vacant land availability, aging infrastructure and it’s comparably small planning department will make it a challenge to meet the provincial targets. The letter made 12 requests, including more funding, better transparency and that the province re-engage with the district to jointly develop a revised timeline that considers Oak Bay’s constraints and opportunities.
Murdock touted his district’s action to spur housing, adding it would explore affordable housing opportunities on municipal land and deliver more multiplexes for families through a new strategy.
Victoria on Thursday (Sept. 28) will be presented proposed changes to its Missing Middle Housing Initiative. City staff said there were only three acceptable applications submitted in the plan’s first six months due to overly “onerous” regulations.
Asked whether cities have been bold enough with missing middle policies – which aim to legalize smaller multi-family buildings that will suit families – Kahlon said Victoria and Vancouver have seen challenges as some of the first communities to advance the inclusionary zoning plans.
“They wanted to take a big step but they also had a lot of caution built in – wanting to address every single issue that every single person raised,” he said.
Coming legislation will enable and incentivize missing middle housing, the minister said, adding the province has looked at what other jurisdictions have done.
“We’re doing a lot of engagement with not-for-profits, with the private sector, with the planning community to make sure that we get it right and I’m feeling pretty confident that we will.”