NDP housing bill ‘undermines 10 years of urban planning’: Langley Township mayor

Click to play video: 'Township of Langley pushes back against new provincial housing rules'
Township of Langley pushes back against new provincial housing rules
The Township of Langley is pushing back against the B.C. government's proposed changes to housing rules, saying they will put too much stress on infrastructure. Cassidy Mosconi reports – Nov 28, 2023

A Metro Vancouver municipality is pushing back against one of the BC NDP’s signature housing bills, warning it threatens to undermine a decade of urban planning.

At issue is the NDP government’s proposed Bill 44, which would force cities to allow up to four units on a standard residential lot.

Click to play video: 'B.C. advancing plan to get more affordable housing built'
B.C. advancing plan to get more affordable housing built

The measure is part of a package of proposed housing legislation aimed at addressing the housing crisis and currently making its way through the legislature poised to fundamentally reshape how B.C. cities grow.

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But the bill represents a “one-size-fits-all” approach out of step with long-established community plans, according to Township of Langley Mayor Eric Woodward.

In a social media post, Woodward warned that under the legislation, a trio of planned neighbourhood developments could see their populations increase by 144 per cent — climbing from an expected 47,000 new residents to up to 115,000 new residents.

Without the necessary infrastructure in place, he said those numbers are not realistic, and that he’ll ask council to scrap the neighbourhood plans at an upcoming meeting.

Township of Langley Coun. Michael Pratt said be believes the province’s legislation was drafted with the best intentions — but that it doesn’t take into account communities like his.

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“We have so many new subdivisions that are going to be coming online, there’s tens of thousands of units across the lower South Fraser in the development pipeline that have been approved, they’re just not being built yet,” he said.

“We have whole neighbourhoods that are being held up because of infrastructure problems and infrastructure deficits that are right now out of the realm of possibility for the municipality to address.”

Click to play video: 'Transit-oriented development law raises demoviction concerns'
Transit-oriented development law raises demoviction concerns

Pratt said the province should be using its power to push more development in cities that aren’t living up to construction targets.

But he said in cities like Langley that are ahead of the game in approvals, it should offer a carrot rather than a stick.

He pointed to the billion-dollar infrastructure fund for municipalities the province rolled out in February as an example of how the province could help communities like the township that are already doing their part to meet housing targets.

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But Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon splashed cold water Tuesday on any exemptions for the municipality.

“(The Township of Langley) doesn’t need to make those changes — Metro Vancouver in their own reports have highlighted that building medium density is actually more cost effective for the infrastructure that already exists, so this will allow housing to be built with less investments needed for infrastructure,” he said.

“We have very limited land and we have a lot of young families who need housing. What we need to do is find the most effective use from our as it exists now to get the most amount of housing, and this is the best way to do that.”

The future of the Booth, Rinn and Fernridge neighbourhood plans is set to be debated at the Township of Langley’s Dec. 4 meeting.

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