Harrison Hot Springs will be taking a closer look at the village’s housing needs, if a grant request to UBCM is approved.
On Monday (June 3), council voted to apply for a grant that would allow the village to undertake a housing needs report, which would look at current housing in Harrison Hot Springs and where any housing gaps might be.
Starting in April of this year, municipalities are required to develop a housing needs report every five years to help staff understand what kinds of housing are most needed in their community, as well as inform local plans, policies and development decisions. The report will be public, but does not necessarily have to be submitted to the provincial government for consideration.
The goal of the report is to see if something is missing in the village. Does there need to be more single family homes, or more rentals? Is the housing that is available affordable for the people living in the community?
The report will also come up with background information on the village, such as demographic information, and will look at the future demand for housing in the community. It will also analyze where gaps between residents and the type of housing they can afford are popping up.
The housing needs report is expected to cost the village $16,500 for a consultant to undertake the project. The report will be developed using an online survey, as well as focus groups with key stakeholders and meetings with neighbouring communities.
The Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) has up to $15,000 available for communities of Harrison’s size. Council decided to apply for the $15,000 grant, and cover the remaining $1,500 with funds from the Federal Gas Tax.
During the discussion by council, councillor Ray Hooper asked if the report would include Harrison’s homeless community.
The report “seems to be duplicating what the healthy communities (committee) is doing, so I want to make it clear that this will cover the whole aspect of it. The homeless, those seeking accommodations,” he said.
Community services coordinator Rhonda Schell, who brought the recommendation to council, said the report would encompass any resident in Harrison, and what their housing needs would be.
When a report will be finished depends on when UBCM accepts Harrison’s grant proposal. Sometime after the report is finished, the village will begin work on creating a new Official Community Plan (OCP), using data from the housing needs report.
CAO Madeline McDonald said staff may be approaching council in the fall of 2019, depending on budget, to start the process of a revision of the OCP. The last OCP was adopted in 2007, although it has been amended several times since its adoption.