Q&A – Affordable and Attainable Housing

Affordable and Attainable Housing – Q&A

Q – What would you do to alleviate the housing shortage in CR? 

A – Real estate and development is market driven. They will build whatever the market demands and they will charge whatever the market will bear. It is supply and demand.

According to the housing needs assessment by the city we needed a minimum of 1000 new housing units over the 5 years from 2017 to 2021. There were 1715 housing starts over that same period. 507 in 2021 alone. It should have been enough according to our estimates although we were low in the missing middle.

So how do we get more housing at the right mix?

  • Speed up the development application process. Time is money to developers. The review is slated for an upcoming council meeting.
  • There is only one person who pays and that is the consumer. We must be careful of what we want the developers to pay for. They have to apply that cost to the lots, increasing the cost of housing.
  • We need to reconsider the urban containment boundary, and rural development standards.
  • Consider more manufactured homes and new green field small lot developments.
  • Secondary suites in new developments. Eagle heights is an example where secondary suites are allowed in every dwelling.
  • In established neighbourhoods, anyone can apply to construct a secondary suite in any R1 zone. This rezoning triggers a public hearing and we must consider the comments of the neighbourhood.
  • Densification in the right location is a good idea. In new developments it can be incorporated into the plan and the consumer is aware of what is coming. The same is not true in existing neighbourhoods. Changing the neighbourhood and adversely impacting their investment and life results in conflict.
  • We also must ensure that the existing infrastructure of water, sewer, stormwater and roads has the capacity necessary to accommodate increased density.

There are a number of other opportunities to provide attainable housing that are worthy of discussion and consideration such as:

  • We have been and continue to be involved with BC Housing to provide non-market (rent geared to income, shelter rates, or bridge) housing units. Since 2017 they have acquired or built 178 units and have 55 more under construction.
  • co-op housing or subsidized housing
  • We need to “think out of the box”.
  • It is currently not in the city’s mandate to build housing or develop housing projects however it is time to consider this approach
  • The Comox model where a percentage of new rentals and condos are provided to the town for affordable housing.
  • The Duncan mini homes model.
  • Collaborating and partnering with the development community and others

– Charlie Cornfield