Consultant Noha Sedky told council earlier this month that the District of Maple Ridge is ahead of many cities in that it led the way in allowing detached garden suites to be built in a backyards so homeowners can provide cheap housing for renters or seniors.
However, few applications for such suites have come into the district, so it should review the bylaw to see what are the problems. As well, garden suites should be allowed on second storeys of garages, says the new Housing Action Plan.
The plan is in draft form and lists several tactics that Maple Ridge can undertake to make housing more affordable in Metro Vancouver.
For one thing, the district could open itself up to create more types of housing, such cottage housing, container housing and pre-fab homes. Container housing are homes that have been converted from shipping containers to provide compact accommodation in creative ways.
Affordable housing can be helped in other ways, as well, such as ensuring rental housing meets standards, creating incentives for medium-density developments, and requiring developers to ensure some of the units they provide are adaptable for those with disabilities.
Another tactic is for the district to support non-profit housing projects such as Alouette Heights, where the district provided the land while B.C. Housing financed the supportive housing project.
Other ways to increase a cheaper housing supply is with money.
Density bonusing, in which builders pay the district more for the extra lots created, if they increase the number of units to the next level of density, should be expanded, says the plan.
Another way to encourage new housing would be to waive fees or property taxes for a certain period, with projects fast-tracked in the permitting process.
Relaxing parking requirements also could encourage builders.
But it’s up to the district to decide which measures will be focused on, said Sedky.
A draft version of the Housing Action Plan is available on the District of Maple Ridge website for review and comment.