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February 14, 2024, 11:27 am

Coquitlam Launches Housing Accelerator Fund Action Plan to Fast-Track Housing Initiatives

City of Coquitlam
COQUITLAM -  Coquitlam has launched its Housing Accelerator Fund Action Plan, designed to help address the diverse housing needs of the community.

This action plan leverages a recent $25-million investment from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Housing Accelerator Fund which enables the City to advance a number of key initiatives aimed at improving the housing approval process, and deliver related infrastructure and amenities. All of the work identified in the Action Plan seeks to further enhance the speed and efficiency of home construction in Coquitlam, addressing the urgent need for more housing options.

Meeting Accelerated Growth Targets by 2027

As a condition of receiving the Housing Accelerator Fund grant, Coquitlam has agreed to reach additional housing and growth targets by early 2027. This includes: 
 
  • 5,098 multi-unit housing units located close to rapid transit; 
  • 967 missing-middle housing units (i.e. townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, etc.); 
  • 249 additional multi-unit housing units; 

This works out to a total of over 6,440 new units by January 2027. Additionally, 322 (5%) of these units must be affordable units. Housing would be considered affordable if it costs no more than 30% of household income or at least 25% less than average market rates.

Funds Used to Support New Housing Growth

The $25 million grant will be used to enable and support investments in housing-related amenities, infrastructure to support housing supply and growth, as well as affordable housing. A portion of the funds will also be used to implement the Housing Accelerator Fund Action Plan, which commits to seven key initiatives to be completed over the next two years including: 
 
  1. Development Approvals Process Review (Phase 2) – streamlines application procedures, enhances collaboration, and reduces processing times through process improvements and digital upgrades including digital plan reviews, expansion of the online application portal, refined review processes across City departments, and a revamped Zoning Bylaw for increased clarity. (coquitlam.ca/DAPR)
  2. Rental Incentive Program Review – evaluates and expands rental incentives for the development of affordable and purpose-built rental housing.
  3. Delegated Authority for Minor Development Variance Permits – explores delegating approval of minor development variances to City staff, along with criteria for evaluating proposed variances, in order to reduce processing times and enhance customer service.
  4. Official Community Plan Update: Urban Design Guidelines Review – enhances clarity of City design guidelines in the Official Community Plan by refining urban design directions and fostering smoother application processes, shorter review timelines, and reduced design-related debates. (coquitlam.ca/CWOCP)
  5. Citywide Parking Review (Phases 3 and 4) – optimizes parking regulations for both on-street and off-street spaces, including a Curbside Management Strategy (Phase 3) for improved transportation efficiency, and off-street parking updates (Phase 4) to enhance housing delivery and development certainty. (coquitlam.ca/ParkingReview)
  6. Southwest Housing Review (Phase 3) – explores opportunities for efficient and diverse infill housing options in Southwest Coquitlam. (coquitlam.ca/SWHR)
  7. Non-Profit Housing Partnerships – focuses on developing partnerships with non-profit housing providers on City land, and developing updated processes and procedures to streamline development processes for non-market housing on City and private lands.

While all of the proposed action plan initiatives were already on Coquitlam’s Council-endorsed Business Plan or aligned with other future priorities, the injection of federal funding allows the City to advance the timelines for these projects. 

Unknown Impacts of Provincial Housing Legislation Changes

As Coquitlam rolls out its Housing Accelerator Fund Action Plan, it also faces the task of aligning with new housing legislation from the Provincial Government, introduced in November 2023. The provincial legislative updates, aimed at improving housing affordability and delivering more homes throughout British Columbia, could significantly affect a number of long-standing and successful housing affordability initiatives already in place in Coquitlam. 

Coquitlam is still navigating the changes imposed by the Provincial Government and is concerned that the legislated housing mandate may cause developers to pause or delay applications currently in progress, which may challenge the City’s ability to meet the housing supply growth target set by CHMC. It is also expected that significant staff time – in particular over the next six months – will be allocated to meet the timelines mandated by the provincial changes, which may impact the Housing Accelerator Fund Action Plan. 

Find more information on the breadth of these changes at coquitlam.ca/HousingChanges.

About the Housing Accelerator Fund Program 

In April 2023, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) introduced the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) program, a $4-billion funding initiative for local governments to streamline planning regulations and boost housing supply. The program sets a target of achieving a minimum annual increase of 10% in dwelling units by building permit issuance. 

The objectives of the HAF program are to: 
 
  • Remove barriers to housing supply; 
  • Provide support for complete communities, and for affordable, inclusive, and equitable and diverse communities through equitable provision of housing; and
  • Support low-carbon and climate-resilient communities.

Coquitlam has been long considered a leader in enabling new housing within the Metro Vancouver region and was awarded $25 million from the Housing Accelerator Fund in February 2024. Learn more at coquitlam.ca/HAF

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