Penticton city council will be looking at seven different initiatives to improve housing on Aug. 1.
The initiatives are part of an action plan for the federal government’s Housing Accelerator Fund and would add an additional 400 residential units over three years beyond regular construction.
“The potential for federal funding provides Penticton with an opportunity to be innovative as we work towards achieving Council’s priority of a livable and accessible community,” said Blake Laven, the city’s director of development services. “We know the demand is there and these initiatives would allow us to direct and encourage construction in a planned and sustainable manner.”
Council will have a vote on the plan following the presentation of the city’s recently updated housing needs assessment report.
That report found the city’s population has been exploding and is not likely to stop, with an expectation of reaching at least 50,000 residents by 2045 and over 40,000 by 2030.
To keep up with the growth the city has seen over the last five years, the city would need at least 240 to 380 residential units each year as a minimum. Over the last five years, the city blew past its targets and built an average of 400 a year.
The seven initiatives currently proposed are:
* The creation of a residential team to direct policy changes
* Utilization of City land and new civic facilities
* Acceleration of new neighbourhood growth
* Pilot of a reduction to parking requirements
* Pre-approved ‘missing middle’ plans
* Removal or revision of density and height restrictions
* Pre-zoning of strategic areas
As an example of how the funding would be used with these initiatives, the city would look at adding housing to the new consolidated public safety building that would replace the downtown fire hall.
“Our housing needs assessment and population growth trends clearly indicate the need for more construction and the federal program would see Penticton eligible for over $10 million in grants to support that effort,” says Laven. “The federal funds are a way to encourage significant investment in the community and the action plan is designed to take advantage of the opportunity and create affordable and attainable housing.”
The Housing Accelerator Fund is administered by the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) and runs until 2026-2027 with a target of 100,000 building permits for new housing units across Canada.
The recommendations were endorsed by Penticton’s OCP Housing Task Force. Details of the actions are available in the Council Report as part of the August 1 agenda package.
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