Trustees looking to form Housing Commission

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, January 30 2019

The Gabriola Local Trust Committee is looking at the creation of a Housing Advisory Planning Commission (HAPC), to advance the work on the LTC’s Gabriola Housing Options and Impacts Review Project over the next two years.

This will be a commission independent and separate from the standing Advisory Planning Commission (APC) that the Local Trust Committee (LTC) would typically refer applications and files to for comment.

The LTC has referred the revised Housing Project charter to the existing APC and requested that they work with planning staff on the development of the communications and engagement strategy for LTC consideration in June.

If approved by the LTC, a formal expression of interest will be going out to the public so that people can submit their names.

However, there will also be a targeted request to eight organizations to invite them to have volunteers appointed to the HAPC.

The organizations will be:

- Snuneymuxw Housing Committee

- Snuneymuxw First Nation

- Gabriola Advisory Planning Commission

- Gabriola Housing Society

- People for a Healthy Community on Gabriola Island

- Gabriola Chamber of Commerce

- Gabriola Auxiliary for Island Health Care Society

- Gabriola Village Vision

Trustee Kees Langereis supported the idea of having an APC dedicated to housing.

Langereis said while there were clearly organizations involved who would have housing and First Nations’ concerns in mind, he would like to also have people with the knowledge to consider environmental impacts.

“That may well be drawn in through the process but, from the start, it should be there.”

LTC Chair Dan Rogers (from the Gambier Local Trust Area) asked if having two simultaneous APCs would work on Gabriola; would there be enough people available to fill those seats.

“The [current] APC, they would be the standing APC for any other applications.

“Then there would be the Housing APC.

“Both would require staff assistance - but I’m not hearing any pushback from staff on that, staff would need to work on the housing strategy anyways. You think there’s enough interest on the island?”

Trustee Scott Colbourne said, “Absolutely - I think this community has specific knowledge on housing. I have confidence from previous conversations that there is interest and expertise to advance this for the Trust.”

Langereis said, “If you only have one commission going, the workload increases for that commission. To me [having two commissions] is easier to manage from the commissions’ perspective.”

Colbourne made a motion that staff take next steps in providing a seat on the current and standing APC to Snuneymuxw First Nation.

Colbourne asked staff if there are ways to substantially advance this project, and whether a consultant should be hired.

David Marlor, Islands Trust Director of Local Planning Services, said that before staff can consider whether to use a consultant or staff time, the scope of the project will need to be determined.

“We have a list of consultants we’ve used; we’ve put out an interest request to find out which ones would be interested in doing the work and how much it’ll cost.

“Then we can come back and put that request in - that could be an update to the charter.”

He said even if the LTC were to approve the cost of using a consultant to complete the project, 30 per cent of a consultant-driven project is still overseen by a staff planner or regional planning manager.

Another option for funding the project could be a special tax levy which would require an extensive public consultation to be done in time for a budget year. With the 2019 budget already in the public consultation process, it is too late to have a levy added on - a decision would need to be made prior to the 2020 budget planning process.

“So we could start by using project funding to hire a consultant.”

Colbourne asked, in terms of timelines, how can the Trust set things up to move the project forward quickly.

Ann Kjerulf, Regional Planning Manager for the Northern Office, said that in other projects “we’d suggest a phased approach, to break it out and maintain momentum.”

This project, however, has a number of interconnected goals.

“The suggestion to leverage knowledge on the island is the best idea we have to advance this - address community needs in a meaningful way. 

“And we’d be relying on the expertise of locals to guide how we engage with community members.”

Within the proposed project charter, it refers to a community consultation taking two years.

Kjerulf said while the project is ongoing, that does not preclude anyone from making an application for housing.

“Anyone can make an application at any time. If [a proposal] doesn’t comply with, or isn’t consistent with, the Gabriola Official Community Plan or Land Use Bylaw, then a rezoning may need to happen, but it can certainly take place at the same time [as the Housing Project].”