Affordable housing remains a challenge for communities large and small throughout BC. While almost all communities in BC have policies in their Official Community Plans (OCPs) supporting the development of affordable housing, implementation of these policies and actually getting homes built remains a challenge. Tools such as density bonuses, inclusionary zoning, amenity cost contributions and development cost charges have been used in some larger communities to support the creation of affordable housing units. However, in smaller communities, these tools may not be as effective or even possible, due to the lower density nature, rural culture or insufficient development to support those tools. Furthermore, housing options are more diverse in larger communities, and developers and builders are more able to provide different products.

Although the magnitude of affordable housing challenges in smaller communities may not be as significant as larger communities, the need for affordable housing still exists in small communities, particularly housing for middle to lower income earners. A recent study by the Columbia Basin Trust identified a pervasive gap in the affordable housing stock in the 25 municipalities studied in the Basin. The existing affordable housing stock of 3,356 units meets less than half of the identified need. By these estimates, between 3,315 and 4,206 new units of purpose-built housing across the housing spectrum are needed.

To more clearly identify the specific issues and capacity needs of small communities to build affordable housing, the Whistler Centre is working with BC Housing to: survey and interview local governments, non-profit organizations, developers and builders to better understand the issues from each perspective; undertake research and a scan of leading practices in small communities in BC and elsewhere; and host workshops in the fall to share our findings on the best practices and most effective strategies to move beyond policy and towards more homes actually built.

For more information, or to request notification of the research findings and workshop locations/dates, please contact Cheeying Ho at 604-388-8421.