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Township tackles new housing regulations

Mayor took shots at provincial housing policy
Langley Township civic facility. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley Township council voted on Monday, June 10 to defer final approval of some new housing regulations until October, after the next provincial election.

The province introduced a host of new housing rules last year, intended to allow for greater density and more homebuilding across B.C.

Those rules come into effect at the end of June, and municipal governments have been scrambling to adjust their local rules and bylaws to bring them into compliance with the provincial changes.

At the June 10 meeting, council voted on approving a transit-oriented area around Willowbrook Shopping Centre, where higher densities will be allowed because of the future SkyTrain station.

Developers have already been applying to build residential towers in the area to the west of the Willowbrook Shopping Centre.

They also voted on a number of changes related to small-scale multi-unit housing (SSMUH), as the province has mandated that builders will be allowed to construct three- and fourplexes on most serviced single-family lots in B.C. starting this July.

However, the Township will hold off on the final approval of some of the changes.

Mayor Eric Woodward, who has clashed with provincial Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon on the specifics of the housing rules, asked to defer the final adoption of the Willowbrook Transit Oriented Area until late October.

Councillor Kim Richter asked why the delay in final approval.

"There must be a reason why you're deferring it to October," Richter said.

"I have no rationale to provide for you, that's the motion on the floor," Woodward replied.

Coun. Michael Pratt wondered if deferring final approval wouldn't result in a "strongly worded letter" from the B.C. government, and Woodward indicated that the Township would likely seek an exemption. He also said he believed that the provincial regulation would short circuit local planning for Willowbrook and its future amenities, doing "significant damage" to the area.

Another series of votes was held on items related to SSMUHs, with some passing as-is, others being deferred for final approval until after the October election.

The delays seemed political, said Coun. Margaret Kunst.

"We need to get on with this, seriously," she said.

The council also voted on a motion by the mayor linked to the SSMUH rules, which was aimed at preventing developers from building a single fourplex or other relatively small housing project on properties in the 200th Street corridor.

Provincial rules allow any site of less than an acre to be developed into SSMUHs, but the Township has plans for greater density in that area.

The council voted 8-1 in favour of the motion that Woodward said was "to prevent SSMUHs on 200 Street."

Woodward has been highly critical of the provincial revamping of the rules, noting that the Township has been building new homes at a blistering pace in recent years.

The Township is also revamping neighbourhood plans in Brookswood in light of the new provincial housing regulations, 

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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