Affordable Housing

Updated: May 2, 2018


Learn more about the Buckley Avenue Proposed Affordable Rental Housing Project


 

The Affordable Housing Task Force presented its final recommendations in December 2016 (see background information below). 

Since then, the District has been working with an affordable housing consultant, M’akola Development Services, to build on the recommendations of the Task Force, and develop a long-term program. In March 2018, the "District of Squamish Affordable Housing Program Final Report" was approved by the District. M’Akola also produced a Housing Needs Assessment (July 2018) that presents a summary of the research and consultation conducted by the research team and identifies needs and gaps along with an estimate of the backlog of affordable units required to address the critical need in Squamish.

The final report outlines policy and organizational recommendations, including three new action items:

1. Create a Comprehensive Affordable Housing Policy (CAP)

This policy seeks to create a comprehensive and coordinated approach to dealing with affordable housing issues under a single umbrella policy to ensure that policies are working in concert with each other. It looks to coordinate action on such matters as Community Amenity Contributions, Zoning Bylaw amendments, processes, fees and charges reductions, and possible taxation changes.

2. Create a Perpetually Affordable Housing (PAH) Policy / Bylaw

A clear policy or bylaw that:

  • Creates a clear, enduring affordable housing definition;
  • Establishes rent limits;
  • Defines possible eligibility restrictions to access affordable housing (e.g. income, asset, residency);
  • Creates and manages a waitlist;
  • Addresses the ownership of units whether owned by a developer, District or non-profit;
  • Determines how affordable housing projects are to be managed.

3. Create a Services Partnership

This recommends that the District consider three options for an organization to manage affordable housing. 

  • A municipal corporation.
  • A non-profit corporation under the Societies Act.
  • A long-term partnering agreement with an existing non-profit housing organization in the community.

What's next:

Over the next few months, the District will work to determine the most appropriate organization type. This organization will need to be created prior to moving forward on the construction of any affordable housing projects in the District.


Background

The Squamish Housing Task Force was convened in May 2015 in order to develop actionable recommendations to address the housing needs of the community and to to implement the 2013 Affordable Housing Framework for Squamish.

The Task Force was chaired by Councillors with participation from Squamish Nation members and other members consisting of representatives from the non‐profit sector and private sector.

The Housing Task Force Final Report was presented to Council on December 2, 2016. The report outlines 13 recommendations intended to assist Council in guiding housing policy and program decisions of District Council in the coming years, and present the framework of a housing plan for the District and the community.

Visit the Housing Task Force page for Terms of Reference, Agendas, and minutes.

Learn more about the proposed Affordable Rental Housing Project.


 

Housing Task Force summary of recommendations

1 ‐ Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) Policy
The current interim Community Amenity Contribution policy should be revised to focus contributions to affordable housing in the near and intermediate term, rather than have multiple purposes. Further, housing CAC’s should be constructed under housing agreements rather than through cash payments. (This requires that Recommendation 2B below is undertaken and that there is a program to manage the resulting homes constructed.)

2A ‐ Creation of Housing Stakeholder Group
An advisory housing stakeholder group (similar to the Task Force) should be formed to meet quarterly to exchange information and discuss opportunities for collaboration between stakeholders and the District. It should be informal to minimize administrative “overhead.”

2B ‐ Resource a dedicated full‐time Housing Coordinator
The District should provide 2017 budget resources for a new position that would be the main “point person” for implementation of these recommendations, and to recommend and administer new policy as approved by Council. This function could be resourced through the District or a local non‐profit housing organization.

The role and functions of the Housing Coordinator could include:

  • Develop and manage an eligibility program for units that the District can acquire from developers; 
  • Work with District staff to develop a density bonus program to work in conjunction with the CAC policy; 
  • Establish clear housing type needs through a repetitive housing needs assessment or survey; 
  • Establish and monitor construction cost thresholds for affordable housing units provided by developers as CAC contributions; 
  • Quarterly monitoring of housing indicators;
  • Chair the housing stakeholder group; 
  • Actively work with non‐profit housing sector to facilitate non‐profit housing construction in core need categories; 
  • Understand and coordinate any District policies with any social housing policies and programming in the social services and non‐profit sectors. 

3 ‐ Identify lands for purpose‐built non‐profit affordable housing
The District’s Long Range Real Estate and Facility Strategy should consider and include consideration of the disposition of municipal lands to provide for affordable housing and the disposition and acquisition of Crown lands for the purposes of affordable housing.

4 –Supportive and Social Housing Programs
The Housing Coordinator must work in close collaboration with other local social services and non-profit housing agencies, to ensure that housing policy and programs between the District and those agencies is coordinated, across the spectrum of affordable housing.

5 ‐ Aging in place/seniors housing
The District should request that Provincial government include Squamish in the Metro Vancouver region for the purpose of assessing applications for Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters and Rental Assistance Program.

6 – Short Term Rental Policy & Enforcement
The District should develop policy and resource adequate enforcement of the growing proliferation of short term / vacation rentals.

7 ‐ Workforce housing policy
The District should develop policy to ensure that large‐scale workforce housing needs can be met.

8 ‐ Work with Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation
The District and local organizations and agencies should approach CMCH to reduce financing barriers for the construction of purpose‐built rental housing in Squamish by the private sector.

9 ‐ Cooperation with the Squamish Nation on Housing Programs
Ongoing partnerships between the District and the Squamish Nation will be critical to achieving success in the future and meeting objectives.

10 ‐ Maintaining market supply
The District should ensure that the local developers and builders can continue to meet the demand for market housing supply through efficient processing of applications and an adequate supply of residentially‐zoned lands.

11 ‐ Revised Regulations for Secondary Suites and Accessory Dwellings
This work is largely completed with numerous recent amendments made to the District’s Zoning Bylaw to lessen restrictions around secondary suites. There are a few new opportunities available in this sphere at present without substantially more review and financial resources being applied (e.g. grant programs), but as new ideas or opportunities to make further amendments arise, they should be reviewed and considered.

12 ‐ Incentives/Fee waivers for Secondary Suites and Accessory Dwellings
The District has made strides here by recently amending its Fees and Charges Bylaw and its Development Cost Charge Bylaw. However, as new ideas or opportunities to make further amendments arise, they should be reviewed and considered. There is also potential for further incentive programs to be implemented. When considering incentives or fee reductions, projects should exceed Provincial building energy standards and implement best practices with regard to water conservation, and also be incorporated into the District’s green building policies.