A requirement in recently introduced provincial housing legislation, aimed at increasing B.C.’s housing supply and limiting construction delays, could cost the Village of Valemount at least $138,000 every five years.
If passed, the new legislation would introduce Bill 44, which would require municipalities to change their land planning to an up-front zoning process, zoning land ahead of time and limiting the use of current rezoning processes. The ministry said the change will help to increase the housing supply across the province.
The proposed legislation would also require all municipalities in B.C. to update their official community plans every five years to reflect housing needs. Currently, there is no requirement for how often municipalities need to update their official community plans. Valemount last updated its official community plan in 2021. Before that, the plan hadn’t been updated since 2006.
Mayor Torgerson says Village staff are working with the province to see how each piece of the new legislation applies to communities with a population of under 5,000 residents.
“In particular, the requirement to re-envision an official community plan every five years given the immense cost that is associated with that,” Torgerson said. Valemount CAO Anne Yanciw echoed Torgerson, saying that consultants typically charge $100,000 to $150,000 to update a municipality’s official community plan.
“That's going to be very difficult for many small communities to comply with unless there are some resources provided or a different format because under legislation, the official community plan as a bylaw requires extensive consultation,” Yanciw said.
According to Director of Finance Lori McNee, Valemount’s latest official community plan cost the Village $138,000.
The ministry said the province will provide “a range of resources and support” to local governments if the legislation passes, including $51 million to help municipalities meet the new requirements.
Other funding streams available is $1 billion in growing communities funds for local governments to tackle infrastructure projects needed for community growth, and $10 million from a second intake of the local government development approvals program, administered by the Union of BC Municipalities.
Torgerson said he’d welcome any funding from the province, but the Village’s current infrastructure meets the demands of its housing needs assessment.
“The Village has applied to the federal Housing Accelerator Fund that will address future development and infrastructure needs, and we are awaiting a response from that grant program.”
Spencer Hall, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG, The Rocky Mountain Goat