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

BC Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon.
BC Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/B.C. NDP

Kamloops has been singled out as one of 10 BC communities that need to build more housing and more suitable housing.

The province has put them on a list – that some have referred to as the naughty list – of 10 communities that have been chosen to set housing targets over the next six months.

READ MORE: B.C. names 10 cities for faster development to help address housing crisis

“We’re hoping Kamloops participates and ensures that the right amount of housing is being built,” Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon told “But the legislation makes it clear than any community that decides not to, or is unable to do so, we will have the ability to put an independent person in to either help remove barriers or help identify potential solutions.

“I characterize it as a list of communities that need more housing and more affordable housing in their communities. If a community decides not to participate, they will go on a naughty list. Right now, this is a list of communities that need to focus on building a whole array of housing.”

On May 31, Kahlon announced the list of 10 cities. Earlier this week, a list of 47 communities was released. That was shortly after Kamloops city councillor Nancy Bepple served a notice of motion to tell the province to keep out of that city's affairs. That motion passed last week.

READ MORE: Kamloops city councillor pushing back against BC housing land use control

The full list included Kelowna but no other Okanagan community.

The list is based on a “data driven” formula developed in consultation with economists and experts in the housing field that looks at 10 elements in three groupings.

Therefore, Bebble's motion had no impact on who went on the short list, Kahlon said.

The three groupings are the “availability of the right housing supply,” urgent housing needs and location.

For example, 15% of the weighting goes to housing for workers and families and another 15% to proximity to amenities.

Renter to ownership ratios have a 5% weight while things like dwelling to population ratio and density to reach affordability each count for 10%.

See the full breakdown of the criteria here.

Kahlon would not say why Kelowna, which is the fastest growing city in the country and one of the most expensive, was not on the short list.

“We let the data inform which community would be there and Kelowna wasn’t on the first 10,” he said. “That doesn’t mean Kelowna won’t be on the list in the future but the data was pretty clear on the first 10. I didn’t want to pick communities randomly on which ones I thought needed housing and which one didn’t.”

Another group of about 10 communities will be named in the fall but how they score on the overall rankings will not be made public.

So what does all this mean for growing cities like Kamloops?

“The focus is on the type of units that are needed so, not just the number of units,” Kahlon said. “I’m looking at one bedroom, two bedrooms, three bedrooms. We’re looking to project how many a community will need.

“This will also look at the amount of affordable housing that needs to be built. We will be having conversations with local governments, with our other partners, CMHC, BC Housing, on how we can work to ensure the entire spectrum of housing can be supported.”

Then it will be up to the communities to negotiate with developers and encourage them to build the number of each sized unit needed to meet the target.

Ministry staff will be meeting with local governments in the next couple of weeks to start setting those targets.

This is separate from the Homes for People initiative announced on April 3 that will likely see the province require larger single-family lots throughout the province to be prezoned to allow for up to four units to be built where only single-family houses are allowed now.

READ MORE: Premier Eby clearing local government hurdles for more housing

“How we define that and what areas will be included, all that is in consultation right now,” Kahlon said.

Legislation to make that happen is planned for the fall.

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