An action plan leading in to 2016 regarding Kitimat’s housing has been outlined.
The District of Kitimat planning department took the recommendations from October’s Kitimat Housing Action Plan and has crafted possible actions in sections where the District has responsibilities.
For the most part council supported the outlines, in a motion that directs staff to return with recommendations regarding the housing plan in the future.
Already ongoing from the District of Kitimat, from prior to the report’s publishing, is support for an extreme weather shelter, access to rent supplements and overall monitoring of Kitimat’s housing.
The District supports access to rent supplements by offering information on BC Housing assistance programs on the District’s website and newsletter.
Council did divide the question to further discuss two specific items, one relating to living out allowances (LOA) and another regarding standards of maintenance for multi-family buildings, such as apartment buildings.
On the matter of LOAs, Larry Walker was concerned that the District doesn’t have authority over whether LOAs are offered.
LOAs are better left to free enterprise, he said.
Later, councillors debated maintenance standards for multi-family rental buildings.
Mario Feldhoff was concerned with that proposal which he feared could create more problems than it solves.
The proposed plan could see minimum standards for water, health, light and ventilation for such buildings.
Claire Rattée indicated hope that the town could push forward on standards only after existing renters in Kitimat can find places to live, if they live in a place which would be impacted by such rules.
Director of Community Planning and Development Gwen Sewell said the plan would not come to council for discussion and specific direction until the first quarter of 2015, by which time the department is anticipating that community vacancy rates will have risen enough to give some breathing room to the community, given that the Kitimat Modernization Project will be nearly concluded.
In the long term, that is through to 2016, District staff will also be looking at the potential for vacant land to be developed in to additional housing.
The housing report, according to the District’s report to council, calls for 740 new housing units needed under some growth scenarios for the town.