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Give us time: Kimberley Mayor says small communities will have difficulty meeting new housing legislation deadlines

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick. Bulletin file

Kimberley planning staff is working to revise and tweak some zoning in the city to respond to new provincial regulations.

Manager of Planning Services Troy Pollock explained that new provincial legislation requires that zoning regulations be amended to allow up to three or four units on a serviced parcel depending on its size (i.e. up to three units on parcels smaller than 280m2 and up to four units on a parcel 280m2 or larger). By comparison, Kimberley’s zoning regulations were amended in 2022 to allow up to six principal dwelling units on a R-2 zoned parcel. At the March 11 meeting, Council approved staff’s recommendation to prepare amendments to consistently allow up to six principal units on serviced parcels in all other residential zones.

It’s all part of new provincial legislation aimed at delivering more housing types, and it sets out a timeline that municipalities must follow.

The legislation and the date it must be ready includes:

• Municipal public hearing ban: Now

• Municipal developer financing changes: Now

• Short-term rental restrictions: May 1, 2024

• Multiplexes on single family lots: July 1, 2024

• Secondary suites legal across B.C.: July 1, 2024

• New municipal Housing Needs Reports: Dec. 31, 2024

• New municipal Official Community Plans: Dec. 31, 2025

• Homeless shelter definition changes: Unknown

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick says that while he understands the reasons for much of the new legislation, he does have an issue with the timelines, and he believes the government heard those issue loud and clear at the housing symposium last month.

He said that at the symposium there was no question the focus was on larger centres such as Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria but the new regulations are being imposed on everyone, including small rural communities.

“The timelines are onerous for small communities with small planning staffs,” he said.

While Kimberley planning staff, which is three people, are busy tweaking the zoning, the other deadlines are gong to have to be met as well, unless the province listens and adjusts them.

He says the deadline to have Official Community Plans updated by December 2025 is not realistic.

“It’s a 12 month to 24 month process to update the OCP and it must be based on the Interim Housing Needs Report, so staff has to work on that too. I think the province heard loud and clear that we need time to implement this. We get what you’re trying to do but give us time to do it.”

He said also that the city will likely have to hire a consultant to prepare the housing needs report, and while sometimes there are grants available to help pay for that, it’s not certain there will be this time.

Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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