Housing demand across the Kootenay Boundary is under the magnifying glass after the regional district was granted almost $150,000 from the province to compile a “Housing Needs Report.”
Since April 2019, this report has been a requirement for local governments to complete as a way to help them understand what kinds of housing are most needed in their communities, and help inform local plans, policies, and development decisions.
So earlier this year, municipalities and electoral areas within the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) agreed for the RDKB to administer the work required to collate the report.
“Essentially it is to help local governments and the province better understand and respond to housing needs, whether that’s in the region, across the province and so on,” explained Frances Maika, regional spokesperson.
“Any time you have herd data that is very recent, that is a constructive tool to support a request for funding.”
Compiling a catalogue of datasets into one focused report is advantageous in a number of ways.
“One benefit of producing a region-wide report is that you can look at economies of scale,” she continued. “What that means, for example, is if you have a number of housing projects of a similar kind, you could perhaps look at procuring some entity to address these projects, all three at once,” Maika said, clarifying her point is hypothetical.
“Rather than doing things of this kind in silos, or piecemeal.”
Greater consistency is another upside to looking at housing needs through a regional lens.
“As a regional district, in particular, when we have this information for each of our communities, we can take a consistent approach as a local government,” she explained. “Recognizing, of course, that each community is different and will have specific needs.”
Finally, and importantly, the needs report will provide a template for addressing housing needs throughout the Kootenay Boundary.
“These are three of the drivers behind taking this approach,” Maika said. “And this (Housing Needs Report) will be available to each municipality and electoral area for their OCP (Official Community Plan) … So in Trail, for example, when the city addresses needs in this community in any upcoming OCP (sessions), this will be information available to the municipality to make key decisions about housing.”
The regional district is now working on a Request for Proposal as the document must be completed by July 2020.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has committed $5 million over three years for the Housing Needs Report program. Funding is scaled based on the net population of the planning area.
The program is structured to reflect the planning areas for which local governments are required to complete housing needs reports: municipalities, electoral areas and local trust areas.