Minister's letter: Coldstream pushed on provincial housing plan

Push for housing plan

B.C.'s housing minister is pushing Coldstream on its housing plan, despite the district's mayor saying it won't make much difference in the municipality.

In a letter to Mayor Ruth Hoyte dated Dec. 8, Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon says he "appreciate(s) how much work is in front of your local government to meet the requirements" of the province's Homes for People plan.

"As you are aware ... the province passed three bills that change the way local governments plan for new housing in their communities ... which regulate short-term rentals. While the legislation establishes the framework for the new rules, many of the details that describe how these changes will work on the ground are set out in regulation, and site standards and expectations around development are laid out in provincial policy manuals," Kahlon says in the letter.

"We have prioritized releasing the regulations and policy manuals to help local governments meet the June 30, 2024, requirements for small-scale multi-unit housing and transit-oriented development areas."

After the announcement of the regulations last month, Hoyte said she supports the plan, but was disappointed Coldstream was not consulted on the speculation and vacant home tax or changes to short-term rentals, such AirBnBs.

"It's always annoying when yet another tax comes along," Hoyte said of the spec tax being expanded to include Coldstream. "I'm not sure why we weren't consulted."

Hoyte said she's not aware of "a huge amount of empty homes" in Coldstream.

She feels the impact will be minimal.

"It won't affect most people ... I suspect it won't free up a lot of homes for rent in Coldstream."

Hoyte said vacation or short-term rental homes often tend to be high-dollar lakefront homes that would be out of reach for the vast majority of renters.

Kahlon says further information will be provided in January about criteria and the process for extensions.

"The regulations for the Short-term Rental Accommodations Act set out where the principal residence requirement applies, exemptions, and how local governments and entities can opt in or out of the requirement," the minister says in the letter.

"Early in the new year, we will be releasing regulations and and a poilicy manual for updating housing needs reports and policy guidance for implementing the new development finance tools (expanded development cost charges and amenity contribution cost charges)."

He said the province is committed to support municipalities through the transition and will notify later this month how much Coldstream may receive from $51 million in funding to support planning and capacity.

In a previous letter, Kahlon said the province is "exploring policy options and additional tools for facilitating the delivery of affordable housing, including the potential for inclusionary zoning and other tools to support a range of outcomes."

"There's something wrong when people are buying up investment homes and keeping them empty while others are living in vehicles and can't find housing," Kahlon said when the measures were introduced.

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