Parksville will consider amending city bylaws to allow most residential areas the maximum density allowed under the official community plan (OCP) to facilitate more affordable housing projects.
The initiative would not apply to areas zoned for single-family dwellings, according to Mayor Ed Mayne, who said he has noticed an increase in correspondence from residents finding themselves priced out of the area.
“We are in a housing crisis. A significant portion of our residents do not have access to suitable affordable housing,” Mayne said during council’s May 16 regular meeting.
He pointed to “soft costs,” such as those associated with carrying the land during processing time for development and building permits. Mayne said the motion will reduce housing costs by speeding up the approval process.
Coun. Adam Fras said he supported the motion and mentioned he recently assisted a single father with filling out an affordable housing application.
“There was one building out of all the affordable housing buildings that we have here, that were available for someone who is not a senior, they were all age-restricted otherwise. One building,” he said, adding long wait lists for housing are one thing keeping young people from moving to Parksville.
Coun. Marilyn Wilson said she does not understand how the proposal will help speed up the process and reduce housing costs.
“On one hand you’ve said that our staff should be applauded for pushing projects through so quickly,” Wilson said. “At the same time, you’re saying this will make it go faster, I’m not sure I really truly understand what this motion is going to do except add to staff time.”
She added affordable housing projects are already processed as a priority by the city.
Parksville already has plenty of affordable housing options, but there will never be enough supply to meet the demand, Coun. Doug O’Brien said. He added he was concerned about people who bought homes, based on OCP conditions at the time, who may not be pleased when an affordable housing development is built close by.
Mayne said the proposal would not affect areas zoned for single-family housing and added he does not agree with O’Brien that Parksville has a lot of affordable housing.
Blaine Russell, director of community planning and building, said the city’s OCP has two residential designations, transitional and multi-unit residential, that allow for consideration of higher density, The transitional tends to be two-storey buildings, approximately 50 dwellings per hectare and the multi-unit residential is up to 150 units per hectare and consideration of up to four storeys.
Mayne’s motion was passed with Wilson, O’Brien and Coun. Teresa Patterson opposed. It will be referred to city staff for review.