Councilors for the Town of Powell River have adopted an implementation plan to address significant needs identified in the 2021 Regional Housing Needs Report.
At the September 22 city council meeting, councilors unanimously approved the plan which, according to a staff report, includes general information about the housing crisis, the various roles of government in housing and what is possible in terms of different levels of government financial support for housing, different types of ownership and tenure, and varying levels of density.
“As everyone knows, we have done a housing needs assessment over the past year, but this needs assessment has not identified the roadmap on how to meet the needs,” said said councilman Maggie Hathaway. “This document creates a roadmap for how we move forward.
“The greatest housing need is for very low-income, low-income and moderate-income households. Nonprofit housing providers are providing an unprecedented number of affordable housing units in Powell River, with 86 units delivered from 2019 to 2021 and another 58 units under construction.
Hathaway said staff held a workshop and survey of local builders and developers to gauge interest in multi-family residential development and purpose-built rental development.
“There is little interest from the development community to build new types of housing, one reason being that the capital and financing needs of multi-family and purpose-built rental construction are too high,” she added. “It is the responsibility of the city and the local government to meet housing needs. We would provide incentives for developers to move into this type of building, but it is our responsibility to ensure that we create this type of housing.
Hathaway brought up the subject of a housing authority. She said staff needed more information about a municipal housing authority. A business plan drawn up for consideration by council is recommended as it will help clarify the role of the housing authority and the level of local government funding required to maintain it each year, she added.
Councilor CaroleAnn Leishman said she was grateful for the plan.
“It seems like there are a lot of steps happening, but we’ve taken all the necessary steps,” Leishman said. “We now have the data and the plan and it is absolutely necessary to provide all the options that we can consider as local government, and all the different funding streams that could be used to build housing.
Councilor Cindy Elliott said she liked some of the report’s suggestions. She said some who call for incentives for the private sector to step up are unlikely to be effective unless a cost-effective way can be found.
“There is a need for governments to step up and fund housing for low to middle income people,” Elliott added. “I can’t say it’s the city’s responsibility, but we want to stand up and provide land and create a housing authority so we can facilitate housing and make decisions locally about what it looks like and where it is. We want the funding to come from other levels of government.
Next council will have tools, says mayor
Mayor Dave Formosa said 14 years ago efforts were made to establish a housing authority and it had not been successful. He said he had more recently had discussions with the director of planning services to consider stepping up and considering the creation of a housing authority.
“We have a lot of land and that’s what you need,” Formosa said. “I agree with my advisers that we can be part of it, but the problem, in my opinion, is that the federal government, and probably the province, stopped building social housing in the 70s and 80s , and it led to this. crisis. It fell on local governments because it hits us right on the chin.
“We have to do something about it and I think the next council will have the tools, and the recommendations are there. We can exploit the federal government and exploit the province, and maybe some private contractors. »