Penticton's director of development services says city focused on housing without provincial input

Already focused on housing

The provincial government announced its first group of municipalities to receive housing targets to build more "good homes in areas with the greatest need" on Wednesday – which includes only one interior municipality.

The Ministry of Housing said in its news release that it is establishing housing targets for municipalities experiencing significant growth and facing urgent housing demands.

According to the ministry, these targets aim to incentivize local governments to overcome construction obstacles, enabling faster housing development. This involves updating zoning bylaws and streamlining approval procedures.

The province said it selected 10 municipalities using a data-based process with the help of economists and other experts, which included Kamloops, Abbotsford, Delta, North Vancouver, Oak Bay, Port Moody, Saanich, Vancouver, Victoria and West Vancouver.

Blake Laven, City of Penticton's director of development services, said the city is looking forward to seeing how the communities that are selected are supported by the province once their housing targets are set.

He said he's not disappointed that Penticton was not selected.

"I think housing has been a top priority for this council and the past council. So I think it's not a reflection of us not doing our job. There are communities picked for certain reasons, and we weren't on that list and I don't think we're upset about that at all."

Laven shared that statistics from the city show that there are "historically high rates of new housing being built" with close to 400 new units a year being added on average over the past six years.

"And that housing is very diversified with 80 per cent being forms of multi-family and 20 per cent single family – an extremely enviable housing mix," he added.

The city had another 1,060 or so units that have been approved for construction, with rezoning and/or development permit approval in place, and Laven said they are optimistic to see current trends continue.

Staff are also currently going through a housing needs assessment report for the city and updating the housing sections of the Official Community Plan.

"We also don't have a really large available land base in Penticton. There are lots of opportunities for infill and additional density, but when you look at all the communities that were selected, I think they were looking at it from a number of different metrics; such as the ability of their councils to improve housing, the ability for their staff to process opportunities for growth in those communities and I think we're doing really good on all those fronts in Penticton."

The province said a second group of eight to 10 municipalities will be selected and notified in late 2023.

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