Town of Gibsons’ planning committee has reviewed and endorsed a series of recommendations that came out of a recent Housing Needs Report, forming the basis for the Town’s housing strategy.
At the Jan. 12 planning committee meeting councillors reviewed nearly a dozen recommendations outlined in the Housing Needs Report Implementation Framework, a follow-up to the Housing Needs Assessment – an expansive and provincially mandated report published last October about that status of housing on the lower Sunshine Coast.
Some recommendations, organized around policy, financial, partnerships, and “supporting social equity,” are already current practice, said staff. These include providing density bonusing, securing rental and affordable housing units through housing agreements with developers, expanding use of secondary suites, and partnering with local and provincial housing organizations.
Others would be new, such as:
• “Inclusionary zoning” to require minimum units of affordable housing in new development outside the town through housing agreements.
• Using covenants to require new secondary suites be used for long-term rentals for a set period.
• Providing incentives for homeowners to rent secondary suites as affordable workforce housing.
• Restrictions on short-term rentals.
• Identifying sites for shelter, supportive housing or rental developments.
The steering committee that oversaw the housing needs assessment, which included representation from real estate, planners, health and social groups, also provided input to the Implementation Framework report.
During discussion, Coun. David Croal said the pandemic has “exacerbated” housing needs on the Sunshine Coast, and asked whether COVID-19 restart funding could be used to fund next steps.
Next week council is expected to receive a report on COVID-19 funds and could provide more clarity, said CAO Emanuel Machado. He also noted it will take “many years” to implement all the framework recommendations.
Coun. Aleria Ladwig said in principle she “wholeheartedly” supported the recommendations but wanted staff to also report back with more information on how to prioritize and act on the recommendations, a request councillors approved in a vote.
Mayor Bill Beamish suggested an annual report card to create “a living set of priorities.”
Following council endorsement, staff are expected to report back on the feasibility of the recommendations, including impacts on the financial plan.
The October 2020 Housing Needs Assessment Report concluded housing prices are out of reach for many, there isn’t enough rental stock to meet demand, homelessness is rising, and a growing aging population signals a future need for smaller units.