Island mayors and residents react to province’s housing legislation

Island mayors and residents react to province's housing legislation
Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch speaks with CHEK's Mary Griffin on Nov. 2, 2023.

Oak Bay is on the province’s list of “naughty” municipalities that need to address the housing shortage.

But on the main drag, most are in favour of B.C.’s new legislation that allows for small multi-unit buildings on properties zoned for single family homes.

“The more choices there are, the better right? We need a better spectrum. So I’m all for it,” said an Oak Bay resident on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced multi-unit developments will automatically now be allowed on single-family lots for communities with more than 5,000 people.

“Today I am proud to announce that we have tabled the legislation that aims to significantly increase our housing,” he said.

That includes Oak Bay, whose mayor said he doesn’t think this is the right direction.

But Kevin Murdoch admits there’s little they can do.

“I think, realistically, we are a government entity. We are required to follow the law. So we are not in a position to say we refuse,” Murdoch said.

The new rules allow up to four units on single family lots, and up to six units if the project is near transit.

According to Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto, the city is already moving ahead with its own Missing Middle Housing Initiative, which surpasses the province’s goals.

“When the province started indicating that it was going to start going in these directions, it was talking about applying targets to municipalities. I actually put my hand up and said, ‘Pick me.’ And the reason I did that is because we are doing this work now,” Alto said.

Alto adds that she’s open to talk with any municipal politicians balking at the changes.

“This is an offer to all of my colleagues across the province. If you want to sit down and have a conversation how to do it right, give me a call,” she said.

The legislation will also eliminate public hearings for rezoning applications for small housing developments that are consistent with official community plans.

WATCH: Missing middle changes aim to make building housing easier in Victoria

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