Regional District Okanagan – Similkameen staff presented the RDOS board with information regarding the establishment of an affordable housing reserve fund and community housing committee at the regional district board meeting last week.
The information gathering followed a request made by the board in July 2008, when a resolution from the rural committee requesting that staff provide information regarding the establishment of a family housing reserve fund and a community housing committee was made.
A commitment to developing an amenity contribution and affordable housing policy was also included in the 2009 strategic action plan.
Staff reviewed a number of land use related tools and strategies available to local governments to assist with developing affordable housing. They presented a compilation of the different strategies, which included inclusionary zoning, secondary suites, density bonusing, resale price restrictions, housing funds, and land banking.
Summerland Director Gordon Clark, referring to himself as possibly being “mesozoic,” questioned staff’s information, suggesting that such strategies would not be welcomed by the general public.
“This isn’t going to happen in this economy, with a cost conscious electorate. Zoning for secondary suites, resale price restrictions and land banks – you guys are smoking something. This isn’t going to happen.”
Area “D” Director Bill Schwarz disagreed, asserting that there was indeed electorate support for low cost housing and price controls. He indicated that developers were prepared to limit prices on real estate.
“We can do something,” he said.
Director Clark replied that rural areas “better be careful,” stating that senior levels of government were better equipped financially to handle the issue.
“This is a social issue being downloaded on us by higher levels of government,” he concluded, “It is slow death by analysis – we can’t (fund anything) more than a study.”
Staff were directed to consider affordable housing as major rezoning applications and OCP reviews come forward to the board for approval.