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BC slaps Kamloops with new housing target that doesn't add up


In May, the province targeted 10 BC communities it deemed to be in greatest need of building more housing faster. Kamloops was the only community in the Thompson-Okanagan on that list.

Over the following months the province worked with those communities to set housing targets.

Today, Sept. 26, those targets were announced.

For Kamloops, that’s 4,236 new homes to be built over the next five years.

“The housing targets put forward by the province mark a 38% increase in overall housing to be built in these communities over what was projected to have been created based on historic trends,” says a news release issued by the Ministry of Housing.

But for Kamloops the numbers don’t add up.

In the five years from 2018 to 2022, Kamloops issued building permits for 3,742 new homes, an average of 748 a year. Take out the slow year of 2021 and the average climbs to 834 per year. The new target is for 874 per year.

If Kamloops was required to increase its historic rate by 38%, that would have pushed the city to 1,033 per year.

So far this year, permits for only 280 housing units were issued by the City of Kamloops as of Aug. 31.

One thing the news release doesn’t itemize, but is a big part of the overall plan, is that it’s not just a numbers game. There are targets for affordable housing units and the size of units needed in each community.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said during a news conference the first thing he expects from Kamloops and the nine other communities is to change community plans to reflect the higher housing targets, something that could take another year.

The province is bringing legislation forward this fall that will do things like requiring zoning changes to allow up to four housing units to be built on single-family lots. It’s not clear if that will apply to every single-family lot in the province or just certain ones.

What wasn’t made clear is what kinds of things communities like Kamloops are expected to do to reach their targets given issues like high inflation and interest rates combined by labour shortages.

Progress will be monitored after six months and annually after that.

“We want communities to take steps to show there is a commitment to this,” Kahlon said. “If local governments don’t take appropriate action after six months, we have the ability to put an independent person in to identify what the challenges may be. They may be real. They may just not be wanting to participate.”

READ MORE: Kamloops needs to tow the provincial housing line or go on its 'naughty' list

The target for the 10 communities is just over 60,000 housing units, about 28% to be below market rentals. About half of them will be in the City of Vancouver.

Another 10 communities will be named later this fall to set targets with 16 to 20 added each year over the next three years.

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