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RAVI PARMAR: Homes for People action plan breaks down barriers

Province supports growth in Sooke
Ravi Parmar

Ravi Parmar | Contributed

In my first few months as your MLA, I’ve emphasized listening, and I heard loud and clear that people need access to housing.

I met with Sherry Thomson and the Sooke Shelter Society a few weeks ago. We discussed at length the changing dynamics of the housing crisis in Sooke. One thing became apparent, and it’s that we need to be working together to support those in need. The best way to do this is simple: build more affordable housing.

However, in my numerous talks with Sooke home builders, a common throughline has been the slowing effect that the municipal and provincial permitting process has had on their efforts to build more homes for people.

This needs to be fixed.

That’s why our government has tried to streamline the provincial permitting process. We’ve implemented a single application system to remove barriers, intending to get more homes built quicker.

Under the Homes for People action plan, the province brings more multi-unit and small-scale housing to the British Columbians. We’re achieving this by introducing legislation that will remove the barriers within the municipal development approval process. Just a few examples include that community plans and zoning bylaws will have to be regularly updated by municipalities to conform to their housing needs report, lots zoned for single-family or duplex will be approved for three to six units (depending on lot size and proximity to transit), and public hearings will be done away with, if the housing proposal fits within the OCP.

Development regulations and zoning rules have been serious obstructions to building homes. We are taking action to remove these barriers because we acknowledge that the people of B.C. don’t just want but need housing and must do everything in our power to make it happen.

As more people come, we need more houses built, and we need support in place for those living there. In Sooke specifically, the community is growing rapidly, so the demand for housing and the amenities to support our expanding community is also growing. Streamlining the building process at the municipal level will help ensure that Sooke has the amenities we need to thrive as we welcome new neighbours.

We understand that supporting communities is essential for our province to grow sustainably. This was reflected in the one-time grants our government gave to each of the municipalities in B.C. This included Sooke, which received $6 million toward the projects and initiatives deemed paramount by the city.

The level of growth in Sooke also means that more people need to get from place to place. Our improvements to Highway 14, completed over the summer, will allow folks in the region to move around safely and more effectively. This demonstrates the commitments we have (and will continue to) make to assist in expanding this beautiful town.

Ultimately, taking tangible, pointed action to create more homes is necessary to respond to a real challenge.

Suppose we are to support the growth of Sooke. In that case, we must use the tools at our disposal to ensure that homes get built, that help gets put in place, and that we create welcoming communities where folks can make a proper home for themselves and their families.

Ultimately, it all comes back to homes for people.


Ravi Parmar is the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.

RELATED: B.C. unveils new ‘Homes for People’ plan with goal of 108K new houses, apartment units