Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson is hopeful the Housing Supply Act will give the city “breathing room” to plan its future growth.
While Goodmanson said he was surprised to see Langford on the long list of 47 communities included under the province’s Housing Supply Act – the “naughty list” as Goodmanson put it – Langford is not on the first 10 communities set to have provincial requirements imposed on its development.
“That breathing room I think will allow us to plan with developers and plan with the business development community and look at our own housing needs assessments and still be able to build for the future, but have hopefully a little bit of time to plan for it.”
In May 2023, the total number of units under construction in Greater Victoria was 7,310, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation data. Langford is building just under a third of that with 2,307 units under construction.
Victoria is the largest chunk with 2,384 units under construction, then Esquimalt with 711 units. Langford is building more than the other 10 municipalities (plus the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area) combined. Colwood is building 359 units, Saanich is building 415. Oak Bay, the other Greater Victoria municipality that’s part of the Housing Supply Act rollout, has 33 units under construction.
“I’m not going to tell another mayor they have to do more or whatever, that would be completely out of place,” said Goodmanson.
Langford’s new council has emphasized balance in development and while overall construction activity is up, approval of new builds in council meetings has slowed.
Since they were sworn in on Nov. 7, 2023, Langford council has adopted rezoning bylaws which have paved the way for 375 residential units, although 288 of those were proposals that had come before previous mayor and council, with the current council voting on adoption while not receiving any new information (after a public hearing, council is not allowed to hear new information on a proposal).
The city is also in the midst of its strategic planning process.
An “early guidance” version of the plan laid out the council’s priorities into two broad categories: “high-quality growth and density,” which focuses on urban density while providing amenities, and “less impactful, more livable construction” which will look at development proposals to include a “good neighbour commitment.”
Goodmanson said the hope is to have the process completed later this year.
“Realistically, we haven’t actually been stopping any developments that have come through yet and we have by far done our part and more,” said Goodmanson, who rejected the criticism that business investment in the city has slowed since November (critics point to high taxer increases).
Langford saw 570 housing starts of all types in the first four months of 2023 versus 333 in 2022. That’s the highest figure in the first four months of the year Langford has seen since incorporation.
“Everyone knows what’s going on with a sort of the political climate coming from the province. Everyone is going to have to adjust that on their own – it’s just not foreseeable because municipalities have plans, but now they’re being told they have to do these plans, or rearrange their plans in six months, which, realistically, isn’t feasible for many of them in that time.”