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Kamloops city councillor pushing back against BC housing land use control

Kamloops city councillor Nancy Bepple doesn’t want the province to tell the city what to do with housing.

She’s asking her council colleagues to back a motion to that effect when they meet next Tuesday.

It’s all in reaction to the province’s Homes for People platform that promises legislation this fall that would allow fourplexes to be built on many, if not all, single-family lots in the province.

“The city does understand the importance of having a variety of housing choices and using the available land for something other than single-family residential,” Bepple told “But you also have to look at the limitations. There are parts of the city that can’t support the additional growth that the province is suggesting. It’s the city that understands the infrastructure in terms of water and sewer, in terms of roads, in terms of traffic. To have this sort of overreaching zoning from the province is problematic. It doesn’t work with the idea of using our land as effectively as we can.”

Growth needs to be concentrated in urban cores where the water, sewer and roads can handle the increased density, she said.

READ MORE: Trees or homes? Central Okanagan politicians need to focus on housing crisis

Already the city has done a lot to allow, for example, duplexes to be built in more places. But at the same time, they are not allowed in neighbourhoods like Barnhartvale where the water supply is maxed out, she said.

Even if there was enough water to that neighbourhood, growth would force roads and other infrastructure to be upgraded and the province has given no indication it’s going to fund such work.

Similarly, the Rayleigh neighbourhood on the northern side of the city is on septic systems and has a separate water system.

“Kamloops is very spread out,” Bepple said. “It’s very, very expensive to provide additional infrastructure. So for the city to have to incur that cost – I think we need to have a fulsome discussion about it.”

Her motion outlines numerous changes the city has brought in over the past few years to allow for increased density, in certain areas.

It also says that, from 2017 to 2022, the city has grown by 8,883 people and issued building permits for 4,501 dwelling units capable of housing 10,352 residents, indicating that it's already keeping up with demand.

“It is hereby stated/recommended that the Province of British Columbia not interfere with local government land use decision making authority in regard increasing housing supply through the Home for People action plan,” Bepple’s motion says. “Further, that the City of Kamloops wishes to retain jurisdiction over land use for housing.”

She wants the mayor to send the letter to the Minister of Housing.

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