News

Municipality looks at options for affordable housing

Recommendations provided to create non-market housing as soon as possible
 | July 27, 2022
Photo: Kyle James.

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) is taking steps towards creating more affordable non-market housing within the community.

SPMRM hired Whistler Centre for Sustainability Engagement + Planning in December to create an employee non-market housing strategy. The consultants recently completed the report, which assessed the current housing situation in the community.

The population of Sun Peaks has more than doubled since 2016, but the number of residences has hardly increased. As of 2021, the population of Sun Peaks is 1,404, with 1,506 private dwellings on the mountain — of which only 622 are occupied by permanent residents.

The consultant’s report found 62 per cent of employees are year-round and 75 per cent of employees live in Sun Peaks, with over 60 per cent living in staff accommodation. However, only five of the 37 businesses who participated in the consultant’s survey said they plan to invest in staff accommodation.

The report provided many recommendations to increase employee housing options, and Sun Peaks Housing Authority (SPHA) reviewed the plan to determine what the priorities should be. Municipal staff then brought forward SPHA’s recommendations at the July 19 council meeting. 

“The Housing Authority prioritized the recommendations that focus on supporting emerging housing projects that could see some shovels in the ground within the year,” said Shane Bourke, SPMRM’s chief administrative officer, at the council meeting.

“They also looked at how we could facilitate projects as opposed to being the developer at this time, primarily based on funding required to be the developer.”

As a first step, SPMRM plans to submit a Crown grant application for an unallocated parcel of land at the corner of Fairways Dr. and Burfield Dr. to use for housing options. 

Some of SPHA’s other recommendations included reserving 40 per cent of any new non-market housing units for employees of the developer, establishing housing agreement resale covenants and rental housing policies, and considering property tax exemptions. 

It also recommended waiving development cost charges on non-market ownership housing by 50 per cent, which are fees the municipality collects on new development to pay for infrastructure such as sewer, water or roads.

At the council meeting, SPMRM directed administration to develop specific proposals on how to complete these next phases of work to bring back to council.

“We had budgeted $35,000 to complete this work this year and we’d like to proceed with that,” Bourke said. 

SPMRM also received inquiries from two groups who proposed projects to increase housing opportunities in the near future. But since SPMRM is a young municipality, it has not established the bylaws required to begin negotiations for these projects. 

Moving forward, municipal housing bylaws will be a priority. Bourke said to support the required bylaw changes and follow through with the other recommendations, administration will seek legal and expert advice on how to move forward.

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