(File Photo/Black Press)

(File Photo/Black Press)

Kelowna needs more stakeholders to provide additional affordable housing

Goal is to increase development of affordable rental housing through acquiring and providing land

Kelowna council heard an update to its Affordable Housing Land Acquisition Strategy (ALHAS) at this week’s meeting (Mar. 14).

ALHAS is a key recommendation from the city’s Healthy Housing Strategy (HHS). Its goal is to increase the development of affordable rental housing through acquiring and providing land. The strategy is anticipated to have a high level of impact on improving long-term housing affordability in Kelowna, according to a staff report to council. ALHAS is funded by three revenue streams, an online accommodation platform fund, developer contributions, which the city does not currently receive, and general taxation. Contributions from general taxation are $200,000 annually, and for 2022 that amount was increased to $275,000.

The report states addressing even 10 per cent of the growing need for land for affordable housing in the city would cost an estimated $2.05 million per year. This is based on providing 10 per cent of land for housing for new residents from 2021 to 2031 who would be spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rental housing. It’s also based on a 10-year average of $111 per square feet of land, with costs assumed to increase by 6 per cent a year.

“Additional ALHAS funding mechanisms are under review, including developer contributions, which would increase ALHAS’ capacity significantly,” said Arlene Janousek, with the city’s planning department. “To date, the ALHAS funding strategy has resulted in the purchase of one property for affordable housing, however, there are numerous other examples where the city has worked with partners to help provide land for housing.”

These include the Pleasantvale (Central Ave. and Kingsway) development and the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Housing Society project.

Councillor Loyal Wooldridge asked staff what other steps are being taken to tackle the housing crisis in the city.

“In the zoning bylaw update we’ve been talking about density bonusing,” said Ryan Smith, director of planning, City of Kelowna. “We’ll be back with a policy level report in the next few weeks about how density bonusing may tie into the provision of affordable housing in different ways.”

Mayor Colin Basran pointed out that affordable housing is one component, but creating supply in the rental market is also important.

“I’m not disputing that we need more affordable housing,” said Basran. “But the revitalization tax exemption agreements, the foregoing of property tax in the tens of millions of dollars have helped get projects built. We have vacant land available right now for affordable housing projects. But we need partners to help make those happen.”

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affordable housingCity CouncilCity of Kelownadevelopment