Terrace lays foundations for housing growth

City has changed zoning and tax rates to encourage construction

By Dave Pernarowski

One of the areas of challenge that we face as the area grows is housing. Council has spent a considerable amount of time putting new policies in place as well as providing development incentives and forming partnerships to build affordable housing to help us effectively manage our growing community.

Here’s a chronological list:

2008 – A new, one family, residential zone (R1-A), was established which permits smaller than typical residential parcel sizes with 12 m minimum frontage. This encourages increased density and infill and offers opportunity for new smaller home construction. This could provide more affordable market housing for young families, couples or seniors.

2008 – Council identified housing as a top priority and established a housing needs task force.

2009 – The housing task force directed Eberle Planning and Research to prepare a housing needs assessment titled ‘Housing Terrace: Trends, Needs and Directions 2009.’

2009 – A zoning bylaw amendment was adopted permitting secondary suites, already allowed in the AR1 (agricultural) and AR2 zones (rural residential), to be constructed either in an accessory building or within the principle dwelling.

2009 – Council established a revitalization tax exemption area encompassing most of the downtown. In addition to providing incentives for commercial development, this program benefits new multi-family development by offering a tax exemption for five years based on the value of the improvements.

2009 – The city received a grant from ACT BC which enabled a study of secondary suites in Terrace, as well as supporting informational workshops for residents, realtors and contractors interested in developing suites.

2010/2011 – Municipal planning staff prepared the new Official Community Plan with housing policy refined by a policy working group.

2010 – “Market Estates,” a federal/provincial funded seniors housing facility, was constructed on Davis Avenue. This subsidized housing project was completed by BC Housing, providing 24 units of housing for seniors and people with disabilities. The City of Terrace acquired additional land to enlarge a parcel it already owned, and provided in-kind support. The city contributed $80,000 to support this project.

2011 – Housing policy developed through 2009 – 2010 was adopted with the new Official Community Plan in 2011.

2011 – City of Terrace, in partnership with CMHC and BC Housing, hosted a regional housing workshop.

2011 – 2013 – The city budget included a provision for top-up incentives to support homeowners to undertake LiveSmart BC home energy assessments.

2012 – Council established a standing housing committee of council.

2012 – The housing committee, consisting of appointed community members and two municipal councillors, developed a housing action plan. The action plan included several specific recommendations related to addressing housing issues and needs in the community. The committee also identified and agreed to support the Terrace and District Christian Council in the development of an additional five units of subsidized seniors housing at their property on Tuck Avenue.

2012 – A zoning bylaw amendment was adopted, permitting secondary suites in the R1 zone. (single family residential)

2013 – Promotion and support of BC Hydro’s home energy kits for low income households.

2013 – A zoning bylaw amendment was adopted permitting secondary suites, already allowed in the RR1 (rural residential) zone, to be constructed either in an accessory building or within the principle dwelling.

2013 – The City and Terrace and District Christian Council applied jointly for, and were awarded, CMHC seed grant funds to complete preliminary designs for the construction of five additional townhouse units at the Tuck Avenue seniors project.

2013 – Council endorsed the membership of the Tuck Avenue seniors steering committee who will oversee the construction of the seniors housing units on this site in the summer of 2014.

2013 – Council passed a resolution supporting the Ksan Society in their proposal to build 15-20 units of affordable housing through a commitment to negotiate the lease of city-owned land on Haugland Avenue for this project.

2013/2014 – Council commissioned an update to the housing needs assessment, which will be completed by March 15, 2014. The funding is partially from the municipal budget with a grant support from the Real Estate Institute of BC. The second housing needs assessment will identify needs for non-market (subsidized) housing, incorporate research on the increasing costs of market housing in Terrace, and provide recommendations regarding the market housing demands and investment opportunities in the city.

2013 – CMHC fall release of Rental Market Housing Report confirms Terrace having a 0.0 per cent vacancy rate for rental housing. This is the lowest vacancy rate in the province.

2014 – The city intends to conduct the first annual “homeless count” to determine the accurate number of homeless persons in Terrace. This will tentatively be carried out in late March.

Dave Pernarowski is the Mayor of Terrace.