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Premier Eby clearing local government hurdles for more housing

New rules are coming that will force cities throughout B.C. to allow secondary suites in every home and four-plexes on single-family lots.

Those are two of the planks in the new Homes for People housing program announced in Victoria today, April 3.

Kelowna and Kamloops already allow some of these measures but only in select neighbourhoods. The province plans to force all communities to allow densification on all single-family lots.

The term used for this type of housing is "missing middle", focused on middle-income families with multi-family housing.

“What we’re going to be setting out is a baseline standard for a permit approving process that is quick, that is easy, that is understandable for people who want to build more than one unit on a single-family lot,” Premier Dave Eby said during the news briefing.

People are already building secondary suites or carriage houses, so that part is not new.

“The problem is they had to go through a two- or three-year permitting process whereas, if they wanted to just tear down the home and replace it with another single-family home, they could have done it in months. It cannot be that it takes years longer to build more affordable, more attainable housing but you can build the most expensive kind of housing with the minimal amount of process.”

Higher density buildings will be allowed near transit and the province will buy land near transit hubs to build 10,000 more homes in the next 10 to 15 years.

The legislation to make these changes will be introduced this fall.

Other measures include forgivable loans for homeowners to build and rent secondary suites at below market rates and introducing a flipping tax.

The plan also adds 3,900 new supportive housing units and 240 complex-care spaces throughout the province.

“The province is on track to deliver a projected 108,000 homes completed or under active construction by 2027-28 with tens of thousands more homes to come through other avenues,” a provincial government news release says.

The plan is an effort to ease the housing shortage in a province that has grown by 100,000 people over the last year yet the pace of construction has slowed.

There were 4,868 housing starts in 2022 in the Thompson-Okanagan region, according to a Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia news release issued today.

This is down 0.6% from 2021.

“With high interest rates expected to stay and the significant fall in building permits, building construction activity may slow this year,” Karen Christiansen, representing the association, said in the news release. “Given this challenging investment climate, it is more important than ever to focus on policies that attract more capital investment to our region.”

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