Urban Development Institute chair Jon Stovell, right, speaks with moderator Luke Turri during UDI luncheon in Kelowna. (Phot0/Gary Barnes)

B.C. municipalities could be held accountable for meeting housing targets

‘This is something I thought I would never see in my life’

Necessary minimum building targets may soon be implemented to address the province’s housing supply crisis.

That’s the belief of Jon Stovell, Chair of the Urban Development Institute Pacific Region (UDIPR). Stovell told a luncheon in Kelowna on May 30 that he expects that Minister Responsible for Housing, David Eby, could bring forth legislation this fall after the municipal elections.

“That for municipalities that can’t get the job done, there will be targets or other mandated requirements which will make it essentially a legal requirement to approve the necessary amount of housing to serve a growing population,” added Stovell. “This is something I thought I would never see in my life.”

For municipalities that don’t, Stovell expects they are going to end up seeing some of their decision-making powers eroded significantly.

“After deeply exploring and taxing all the least obvious solutions for housing affordability, the NDP has decided that supply is an issue,” he said.

Stovell added that the institute has been meeting monthly with Minister Eby over the last year.

“We made a presentation to the NDP caucus on why supply is important, and why developers are critical in the execution and delivery of necessary housing.”

Read More: Housing minister, municipal governments at odds over B.C. housing supply report

UDIPR polling found about 65 per cent of British Columbians surveyed felt that supply is one of the biggest problems in housing affordability and that municipalities are a significant part of why that supply is a problem.

“There has been a shift in public sentiment,” said Stovell.

He added that the province has not gotten off without criticism from industry either, with the two most notable bottlenecks being the ministries of Environment and Transportation.

“They can become serious impediments to development in terms of overall permission and on the timeline side of things,” said Stovell. “It can take six to eight months to get approval in principle from the Ministry of Environment. So we’ve gone after them on that.”

The institute is also pressing the province and Eby on construction costs, labour shortages, supply chain issues and interest rates.

“Which he really doesn’t have a lot of direct ability to control, but there are things they can do. So we’re taking advantage of our relationship with the minister to try and get him educated about those issues as well.”

Read More: Budget 2022: Feds add measures to curb speculation as housing supply gets $10B boost


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