While mayoral and council candidates in Langley Township campaign about affordable housing and speeding up permit approvals, changes could be afoot at the provincial level as well.
David Eby, considered the front runner in the NDP leadership race, released a housing plan in late September that is intended to add more housing, increase density, and improve affordability.
If Eby becomes premier, the proposals could come into being relatively quickly.
Eby’s housing platform includes a number of proposed new regulations that could change the real estate market and even override local zoning in Langley and other communities.
One of the proposals is to allow single-family homes in “major urban centres” to be replaced by up to three units.
If Langley is considered a “major urban centre,” that could allow for new housing development in parts of Langley City, Brookswood, Murrayville, Aldergrove, and Walnut Grove.
Not every home could be re-developed – the change would require the new structure or homes to meet setbacks and height requirements. Eby’s platform also notes that “the province will engage cities to ensure infrastructure can support this initiative.”
“I think the proposed change is an interesting way to look to increasing more affordable housing options in our more established neighborhoods,” said mayoral candidate Michelle Sparrow.
“Our rental market has become unaffordable for many and we need to look to ways to not only encourage rentals but to require them,” she added.
Mayoral candidate Eric Woodward said he was concerned about the need for more infrastructure if this change led to more people in existing communities.
“There needs to be funding to go along with school capacity increases, recreational capacity increases, and road infrastructure,” Woodward said.
The target of this proposed legislation probably isn’t Langley, said candidate Rich Coleman.
I think it’s mainly aimed at the city of Vancouver,” Coleman said.
The Township is already expanding housing in some ways in single-family neighbourhoods, he noted.
“We do have basement suites, we do have coach houses in some places,” he said, bringing up the issue of roads, schools, and parks being needed more as population goes up.
Candidate Blair Whitmarsh also mentioned coach homes, emphasizing that expanding housing on single-family lots requires parking on the lot.
“They would have to be able to accommodate parking on their property,” Whitmarsh said.
“I’m very open to looking at different kinds of housing we could do in the Township,” he added.
The Township updated its Housing Action Plan last November, a plan that proposed expanding the numbers of duplexes, laneway houses, and detached secondary suites in some existing neighbourhoods.
In addition to the big change to single-family zoning, the platform promises the province will take a major role in building new housing through BC Builds, which is intended to work with civic and First Nations governments, private builders, and non-profits, to offer rapid approvals, increased density, and construction financing for multi-family housing developments targeted for a range of incomes, including the middle class.
The housing would be both rental and purchased housing.
Another big change would be a flipping tax on the sale of residential property, imposed on anyone who re-sells a property within two years, with the tax dropping the longer the property is held, and with exemptions for a death in the family, unemployment, divorce, or disability.
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