A construction worker works on one of two Miramar towers currently under construction in uptown White Rock Tuesday morning. (Aaron Hinks photo)

White Rock focusing on affordable housing needs

City to seek provincial funds to assess current shortage of options

White Rock wasn’t standing in line when the province dished out $1.7 million in funding last month to help communities collect and analyze data on their housing needs – and affordable housing in particular.

But the city is doing the work anyway, according to Coun. Anthony Manning, chair of the housing advisory committee.

“Staff has already started preparing a housing needs report,” he told Peace Arch News last week.

Manning further reported that, while staff has not yet applied for provincial monies for the work, they are in discussions with the province about the next round of funding, looking toward applying later this year.

Planning manager Greg Newman will be providing an update on the project at the committee’s next meeting this Thursday (March 12), he noted.

The latest round is part of a three-year, $5 million program launched in 2019, which the province described in a news release as part of its strategy on delivering affordable housing – “a shared commitment between government and the BC Green Party Caucus.”

READ ALSO: Advocates say $1.8B per year will tackle B.C.’s affordable housing crisis

Intention of the reports, the release states, is to help communities identify housing needs, “such as affordable housing, rental housing, seniors’ housing, as well as housing for people at risk of homelessness, families and people with special needs.”

The money does nothing to address the current crisis of escalating strata insurance rates, Manning said – which he views as one of the greatest threats to housing security for White Rock residents.

“But that particular dumpster fire with strata insurance is a whole special ball of wax,” he said.

Noting the City of Surrey received $70,000 in the current funding round, Manning said it’s not unreasonable – “given the net population of the planning area, that Surrey would get a bigger chunk than White Rock.”

Manning said that the information gathered through the housing needs reports – a requirement of the Local Government Act – will pass through the Union of BC Municipalities en route to the provincial government, which will then feed it back to the communities in the form of guidelines for how development should proceed.

That might seem like a circuitous route for information the communities already know, Manning said, but the advantage of the process is that it does create a formal document.

READ MORE: Feds’ latest investment aims to boost affordable housing across Canada

“It’s a good program so that municipalities don’t operate in their own little silos,” he said, adding that the housing advisory committee must weigh a whole range of factors in assessing housing needs for the future.

“Clearly, the developments recently initiated in White Rock aren’t for residents – they’re for people from outside the city, in the Lower Mainland, the rest of Canada or from overseas.”

Current and future needs the city needs to address, he suggested, include finding housing for locals displaced by increasing rents, and families being displaced from other communities.

“Affordable housing needs to be created, but it’s a slow process. Even if you put spade to the ground now, it’s going to be two or three years before you see anything.”

The current shortage of affordable housing, he said, is a byproduct of decisions made in the 1980s that shifted power to control development to the hands of municipalities.

“But municipalities aren’t the ones with deep pockets – it’s the other levels of government,” he said.

“A lot of the projects that are now ongoing were not really ‘win-win’ – they really only benefit a few,” Manning said.

“We need development but it can’t be luxury or nothing – that’s been really disappointing.”

Manning acknowledged that some will say the current spate of development in the uptown area has benefited the city through Community Amenity Contributions of some $13 million.

“But you shouldn’t be counting on CACs to balance the budget,” he said. “Increased tax revenues will benefit the city, but what will have been lost is some of the businesses, as well as the sense of home. It’s a trade-off and it’s unfortunate.

“There’s no going back at this point. We need to look forward, but we need to look forward for all of our residents – not just a handful of them. One of the things that has made White Rock very special is the sense of community, but a lot of that’s been eroded. We need to reverse that and find ways to get it back.”



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Former Surrey Eagle home from ‘quiet, empty’ Italy after hockey season cancelled

Delta-born Anthony Bardaro has spent last three seasons playing professionally in Europe

White Rock Tritons stay sharp despite uncertain future of BC Premier Baseball League season

Semiahmoo Peninsula squad recently returned from truncated trip to Arizona

GREEN SPACE: COVID-19 crisis has shown that people are capable of change

Now is the perfect time to create more sustainable habits

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

OBITUARY: Sherrold Haddad brought giant Canadian flag to Surrey car dealership, built community

‘An amazing man, business person and community leader,’ friend Bruce Hayne posted to Facebook

World COVID-19 morning update: Olympics delayed one year; 12,000 health care workers infected

Comprehensive world news update: Lockdown in UK showing signs of hope

Newspapers are safe to touch, World Health Organization confirms

Just make sure to wash your hands as you would after touching any surface or object

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

Most Read

l -->