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Kamloops mayoral hopefuls on housing affordability

Housing affordability is in crisis mode, by many accounts. How can council make housing more affordable for buyers and renters?
housing affordability
Hand with magnifying glass looking at Affordable Housing word cloud, on white background with copy space

During the civic election campaign, KTW has identified four issues and is asking mayoral candidates about them. This is the second of a four-part series, with the remaining two issues to be addressed by candidates in subsequent print editions of KTW and online at kamloopsthisweek.com.

Housing affordability is in crisis mode, by many accounts. How can council make housing more affordable for buyers and renters?

• Ray Dhaliwal: “For attainable [housing], we need to redo our zoning, infill some more on Brocklehurst properties. There’s only one house per 160-foot lot by 60-foot. You can put four to six to eight families on those,” he said.

“There will be a smaller footprint, plus the smaller unit for these people to live in, and the cost will come down a little bit there, so hopefully they’ll be able to get in the market and make it attainable.”

• Dieter Dudy: “It has more to do with the red tape that a lot of the developers need to go through.

“We’re seeing developers becoming very, very frustrated by the fact that they can’t get things done. They can’t seem to get things done in a timely manner and that’s primarily because, No. 1, we have a shortage of people in our planning department, but I’d like to see processes streamlined. I’d like to see unnecessary red tape taken out of the equation.

“So, in other words, if a developer comes to us with a plan and everything that’s within that plan falls within the parameters of the OCP [Official Community Plan], why is this going to a public hearing and why is it being slowed down?”

Dudy said he is not in favour of taking away the public hearing process, but is in favour of limiting them.

He said applications with variances or that face public outcry should have public hearings, but noted some public hearings last five minutes and add unnecessary time, up to nine months, to a project. Dudy said at least 1,000 units are needed in Kamloops. 

• Sadie Hunter: “I was fully in support of building multi-family with almost no parking on Tranquille. Let’s see what happens. Is the sky going to fall or is this going to work out?

“I don’t know that I would be in favour, necessarily, of a blanket policy reducing parking minimums, but in some situations, I think it makes sense. There are probably some other things that we could be looking at, as well, to try in certain areas on a per-project basis to get things going,” she said.

“I feel that the zoning rules are there as a guideline. They’re the black and white. I think we can do more to kind of smudge those lines and try something new to encourage different types of development, especially more of the missing middle housing that’s more affordable for families who might not be able to own or afford a single-family home, but it would move them out of those units and apartment buildings that would then be available for, say, a student or a younger, lower-income renter.”

• Arjun Singh: Singh proposes convening a citizen’s assembly on housing supply and affordability in 2023.

He said everyone has a stake in housing, noting it can be a hot-button political topic. Singh said he was surprised to see public support for legalization of secondary suites across the city and believes a citizen’s assembly involving all involved could lead to consensus-building.

“If you bring people together again, in a citizen’s assembly model, they’re all talking about solutions to the issue. So, do we vary parking minimums? Do we allow more lot coverage? Do we build up, rather than out? What’s the Kamloops solutions for this?”

Singh said homebuilders have a “strong lobby” on directions they want to see to make housing more affordable, but he added it is important to also consider neighbourhood desires.

“We can’t just blindly take anybody’s agenda because people care about their neighbourhood,” he said.

“They don’t necessarily want to see various things and they’d be happy to see other things. Your home is your biggest investment, usually, so you want to make sure that you understand, you touch and feel what’s happening.”

Singh said he was involved in electoral reform in the past, noting a citizen’s assembly can be successful if done right.

“It’s the opposite of a contentious public hearing,” he said.

Note: Reid Hamer-Jackson was the lone mayoral candidate who was not available to be interviewed by KTW for this series.