Sidney council has added more specific language around affordable housing to the municipality’s 2022 strategic plan.
These changes were approved Monday after council received a staff report featuring a wide range of recommendations.
Councillors unanimously agreed “to implement affordable housing policies and initiatives” following completion of the official community plan review starting in the fourth quarter of 2022-23. The amendments were championed by Coun. Terri O’Keeffe.
“I thought it was important that we put something in there to signal to the community that we recognize the importance of this issue, and that it is on our radar to do something about it,” O’Keeffe said during discussions at the Jan. 10 meeting.
“I know we had discussions about this before. There were a lot of other things that we needed to get done first. We needed to get our housing needs assessment, we still need to do the OCP.”
The OCP review scheduled for completion in the coming months will bring forward a wide range of policies relating to affordable housing, staff said.
“As council knows, this is one of the requirements legislated by the province, that we need to consider our housing needs assessment when developing the OCP,” said Corey Newcomb, Sidney’s manager of long-range planning. “So there will be quite a few policies, more than what we can carry out at any given time.”
Staff plan to bring forward a number of policies actionable in the near term for council consideration and prioritization, he said.
Among other changes, council approved amendments calling for an ongoing review of short-term vacation rentals, more formalized relations with the WSANEC leadership council, and pushing plans to build public washrooms in downtown Sidney into the fourth quarter of 2022. A request for proposal for the latter project twice failed to solicit suitable bids, council heard.
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