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Port Moody isn’t a target of new B.C. housing supply legislation: mayor

A recent report said the city's housing supply is keeping pace to accommodate projected population growth.
Port Moody Mayor Meghan Lahti said a the city is building enough homes to meet its projected population targets, so she doesn't suspect it will be a target of Premier David Eby's new housing supply legislation.

Port Moody’s mayor says she doesn’t think the city is in the sights of B.C. Premier David Eby’s new Housing Supply Act.

Eby, who took over from former premier John Horgan on Friday (Nov. 18), announced the new legislation Monday (Nov. 21) in an effort to speed up housing development and increase supply.

Among other things, it will give the provincial government the ability to set housing targets in communities with the greatest need.

Meghan Lahti said Eby’s announcement didn’t come as a surprise as it was signalled by the premier months ago.

In fact, a housing needs assessment completed for Port Moody last year by community planning and development consultant, CitySpaces Consulting, found the city has enough housing getting built or in the approval process to meet projected regional growth targets.

The report did point out, though, that Port Moody is faltering on the diversity of its housing supply with not enough affordable options, as well as accessible or family-friendly units.

“For Port Moody, the number of units being developed is keeping pace with demand,” said the report. “However, consideration to adjust the mix and secure rental housing and affordable units is a key area of opportunity.”

Lahti said the city is working to streamline its development application process, including a review of committee structures to be completed in January, so construction of projects can begin sooner and their costs don’t escalate.

Just last week, council pushed forward amendments to its development approval procedures bylaws that will provide flexibility to bypass reviews of a project’s application by the city’s land use committee and advisory design panel if at least two attempts to schedule those meetings have failed.

Kate Zanon, Port Moody’s general manager of community development, said “two or three” development applications for projects ranging from 50 to 150 units have been stalled since September because the land use committee or advisory design panel haven’t been able to achieve quorum.

“The urgency is we do have applicants that can’t proceed to council,” she said.

Lahti said the requirement to address housing needs must also be weighed against the city’s ability to achieve amenities for residents.

“For any municipality working to bring new housing into their community, the objective is to negotiate the most benefit in terms of amenities,” she said, adding the province has provided assurances that ability to negotiate will be preserved.

“They have recognized the need to provide assistance in the provision of much needed amenities and services to accompany growth.”