Kimberley gives first reading to small-scale housing zoning amendments

Kimberley City Council has given the first reading to its small-scale multi-unit housing zoning amendments, paving the way for more high-density options.

Mayor Don McCormick said higher-density housing is good to help meet Kimberley’s housing needs.

“If you want something that’s more affordable, living has to be smaller. Whether that’s smaller lots, smaller footprints or less-costly construction,” said McCormick.

“Two years ago, Kimberley moved, with our building bylaw, to allow for more densification. That means smaller footprints and more affordable housing.”

The new bylaw comes at the direction of the B.C. government and overlaps with Kimberley’s existing regulations.

“We have a two-year head start on what has now become legislation from the province,” said McCormick.

“The province is carrying it a bit farther than what we had in our bylaw, and we’ve been scrambling to meet that legislation over the last short while. It has to be in place by June 30.”

Kimberley has seen an explosion in rental development in recent years as a result of its bylaw change.

“When we changed our bylaw, we thought we had gone far enough for a town our size to deal with some of the affordability and shortages that we’ve been experiencing,” said McCormick.

“We’ve seen a lot of construction growth of new rental doors in our city. We probably have in the area of 250 to 300 new rental doors that will be available in the next 12 to 24 months.”

McCormick said the changes have been tailored for larger centres, but every municipality must follow it.

“We have already made a big stride, but what the province is doing is a little more heavyweight and quite frankly, driven by the needs of the needs in the Lower Mainland,” explained McCormick.

“This is being implemented uniformly across the province. We all know that one size does not fit all, but in this case, we don’t really have much choice. So, we are extending what we had in place to meet the legislation.”

The provincial legislation allows three to four units on land currently zoned for single-family homes and duplexes, and as many as six units near bus stops with frequent transit service.

McCormick feels the legislation will not change the atmosphere of Kimberley.

“I don’t expect the changes to have a material impact on the look and feel of the city. It’s one thing to be able to be able to do something and it’s another for homeowners to come in and actually do it,” said McCormick.

“I think this more dense growth will happen in a very meaningful way in the places it should be happening.”

City council passed the bylaw through the first reading to give residents time to provide feedback.

“We don’t expect to adopt this until the middle of June,” said McCormick.

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