There is an identified discrepancy between the housing stock in the region and the type of housing that is in demand. Reports over the past several years have suggested that the housing stock is primarily large single family homes and buildings that are in a state of significant disrepair. There is also a reported demand for smaller homes and properties across a number of demographics.
In March 2019, The City of Quesnel (City) in partnership with the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) hired Urbanics Consultants Ltd. to complete a comprehensive North Cariboo Housing Needs Assessment, Gap Analysis and Action Plan. A select Housing committee was formed to guide Urbanics Consultants Ltd. in the completion of this work. The committee included several community stakeholders, members of City Council, CRD Directors, and City and CRD staff.
The intent was to ask and answer two basic questions:
- Do we have the housing supply people are looking for in our community?
- What do we need to do to make our housing supply fit the demand?
This Housing Action Plan is complete and was received by Council on November 26, 2019.
The Housing Action Plan included a variety of suggested actions for the City to pursue moving forward. In response to this, the City of Quesnel created a checklist and on-going work plan to track the City’s progress on items identified in the Housing Action Plan. The checklist and work plan are documents that can be adjusted to complement priorities identified by Council and City staff. The documents include policy incentives and changes, on-going initiatives, special events, and continued outreach to attract developers and housing partners.
The City of Quesnel received a one-year grant position for a housing planner from Northern Development Initiative Trust to help implement the recommendations in the Housing Action Plan (HAP). The Community Housing Planner will actively monitor and work towards the items identified in the checklist. Some items require long-term action that will surpass the Community Housing Planner’s term, in which case City Staff will continue to pursue the action items and meet Council’s strategic priorities.
Review the Housing Action Plan Checklist.
Some action items Urbanics identified are already occurring:
- Update Zoning Bylaw
- Update Official Community Plan
- Create innovative housing models, organizations, and funding opportunities inventory
Actions currently in the planning process:
- Create a secondary suite guide and host a workshop
- Host a Housing Forum to connect stakeholders and potential partners
- Develop land concepts and potential RFP
- Connect with partners and facilitate development
- Encourage sustainable design in new builds
- Promote rental buildings and seniors homes
- Work with Economic Development and encourage market interest to construct homes in Quesnel
The Housing Needs Assessment, Gap Analysis, and Action Plan provides answers to the basic questions and intended goals set out at the start of the project. The housing needs report provides quantitative data that helps the community gain a greater understanding of what kinds of housing are most needed to ensure that local policies, plans, and development decisions that relate to housing are based on recent evidence. The data can be used to secure funding opportunities, provide a rationale for policy change, and help guide strategic planning.
Housing Needs and Gap Analysis Report
Lack of serviced, desirable lands: Sale price point for lots are often too low for developers to cover their costs of development and make an incentivizing profit margin. About 9% of the local housing stock is in major disrepair.
Rapidly aging population: The region and the municipality lack sufficient and appropriate housing stock for older adults who may be looking to downsize or must downsize due to mobility challenges.
Declining household sizes and slow population growth: Community averages smaller-sized households than the Province. Declining youth and working age populations.
Local affordability: About 45% of Quesnel residents cannot afford single-family detached homes that are currently available on the private market.
Housing Action Plan
The Housing Action Plan builds upon seven focused areas identified through the needs and gap analysis report. Each strategy includes a priority ranking, potential strategic partners, success measures, and a variety of suggested actions for the City to consider. The full Housing Action Plan is laid out in section 3 of the document.
1. Address market-rate housing needs
- Enhance density on properties that are already serviced with municipal water and sewer lines, particularly in existing urban properties
- Enhance the supply of entry-level housing for young adults& professionals and senior-appropriate housing
2. Address non-market housing needs
- Work with other levels of government, community agencies, and the development community to address housing affordability issues in terms of seniors housing and below market-rate rental housing
- Undertake research and education to support innovation
3. Enhance supply of rental housing
- Facilitate rental housing supply
- Facilitate workforce housing
4. Enhance housing affordability
- Facilitate more discussion between private non-profits, developers, and landowners concerning new affordable housing developments
- Promote sustainable development of more affordable housing units
- Examine the creation of an Affordable Housing Reserve Fund
5. Maintain the quality of the current housing stock
- Same as theme: Maintain the quality of the current housing stock
6. Facilitate development on vacant lands
- Same as theme: Facilitate development on vacant lands
7. Prepare for anticipated growth in population aged 65 years and over
- Ensure adequate accessibility in housing for seniors
In 2018, the Government of BC amended the Local Government Act to require local governments, at least every five years, to:
- Collect information necessary to identify current and projected housing needs;
- Use that information to prepare and publish online a report, known as a housing needs report, showing current and projects housing needs for at least the next five years;
- Consider the most recently collected information and housing needs report when amending community and regional plans.
As part of the Local Government Act requirement, the City and the CRD partnered to initiate the Housing Needs Assessment, Gap Analysis & Action Plan. The goals were to have the following at the end of the project:
- Current housing availability, suitability, and affordability across the entire housing continuum from basic shelter to the availability of high-end real estate.
- Current data on what type of housing is needed now.
- Actions that will help to increase the desirability of the community through changing our housing supply.
- New policies and initiatives that will help supply the appropriate housing for the changing demands in our community, both urban and rural.
- Project kick off with steering committee and consultants. – March 2019
- Public Consultation Housing Needs Survey – April/May 2019
- Draft needs assessment and gap analysis – June 2019
- Final needs assessment and gap analysis presentation – August 2019
- Presentation of Action plan – October 2019
In 2019, Urbanics Consultants Ltd. presented the Housing Needs Assessment, Gap Analysis and Action Plan findings at the Joint Cariboo Planning Meeting on October 8. The final report was complete by the consultants on October 30, and received by Quesnel City Council on November 26.
March 26, 2019 - Presentation
May 1, 2019 - Status Report
May 31, 2019 - Status Report
June 17, 2019 - First Draft Findings: Housing Needs Assessment and Gap Analysis
November 2019 - Final Housing Needs Assessment, Gap Analysis and Action Plan