Langley Township has adopted a new Housing Action Plan (HAP), one that will emphasize more rental housing, affordable housing, and strategies to combat homelessness.
Patrick Ward, of the Township’s community policy and planning department, gave a detailed presentation on the new HAP to the Township council on the strategy on Monday, Nov. 22.
Ward noted that homelessness has doubled in the Township in the last decade, while housing has become much less affordable.
Other changes driving the need for a new plan included rapid growth and development leading to urbanization, a rapid switch from mostly single-family construction to mostly multi-family construction, and an aging population.
The main thrust of the new HAP is to diversify the types of housing in the Township – including considering rules to allow more duplexes, laneway housing, and detached secondary suites – to catalyze the construction of more rental housing, to support vulnerable residents, and to monitor housing trends.
Adding more transitional housing for women and children fleeing domestic violence is also needed in Langley, Ward noted. There’s a gap for women between the emergency shelters run by groups like Ishtar, and stable permanent housing.
The Township is not looking at building or managing its own housing stock, Ward said.
Working with partner groups, like BC Housing, is going to be key moving forward, he said.
“We’re not in this alone,” noted Councillor Steve Ferguson. “If we’re going to do anything, it’s important that we get together with other players, with builders, developers, the province, and many different organizations.”
Coun. Kim Richter asked if the Township’s new HAP matched up with the goals of the 2020 Opening Doors report, a provincial-federal report that has recently come to prominence after Housing Minister David Eby suggested the province might withhold funding from municipalities that were resistant to helping add more housing supply.
Ward said the Township’s plan speaks to the areas of Opening Doors that are applicable to local governments.
Council endorsed the plan, with Councillor Eric Woodward opposed.
The changes in the plan are largely policy based, and while the report has been endorsed, the council will have to phase them in over five years.
Polices could include requiring more three-bedroom units in future condo and apartment complexes, adding infill development in some areas and permitting duplexes on single-family lots, incentivizing market and subsidized rental housing, and creating a new “homelessness table” to collaborate with other groups on tackling that issue.
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