Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Prince George city council seeking more housing solutions

A report on potential strategies, including those used by other B.C. municipalities, will come back to the next city council.
A 50-unit supportive housing project, located at 160 Ontario St. overlooking First Avenue, is seen in a Citizen file photo.

Prince George city council has asked city administration to bring back a report to the new city council, looking at solutions being used in other B.C. communities to address the housing crisis.

The motion was brought forward by Coun. Cori Ramsay during city council’s meeting on Sept. 21. City council received a report from city administration about a new 50-unit housing development going ahead on First Avenue, beside the 50-unit facility operated by Connective, which opened in June.

“We are desperately in need of housing,” Ramsay said. “Our housing needs assessment shows that by 2031 we need 2,700 affordable single-family homes, we need 5,000 primary rental units, 2,500 subsidized units serving households with incomes of less than $29,000, 300 long-term supportive housing units for seniors, plus 160 units for other needs, 131 spaces of short-term supportive housing – which I believe this project falls into – and 72 emergency shelter spaces.”

At the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual general meeting earlier this month, Ramsay said councillors heard about strategies being uses in communities large and small across B.C. to address the housing crisis.

“We are in a crisis. This is not just Prince George that’s struggling, but communities across the province,” she said.

Langley, for example, has a memorandum of understanding with BC Housing looking at seven potential locations for affordable housing projects, and now requires that all new developments include 20 per cent of housing units to be “below-market rentals,” she said.

Coquitlam provides incentives to developers to increase housing density and has pre-designed plans available for affordable housing projects.

Summerland has cut the time to review building permits for housing projects to three weeks or less, and is reviewing its building bylaws, Ramsay said.

Squamish now allows supportive housing to be built on any land zoned for multi-residential projects.

“Parksville has built co-op housing above a gas station,” Ramsay said. “Many communities are also setting up reserves for housing, so that if community investment is required for a project to go through, their councils can make those decisions. We’ve heard many times that housing isn’t our jurisdiction, but there are things we can do, within our jurisdiction, to better enable the housing we need to be built.”

City council voted in a favour of a motion to get a report back, sometime into the next council’s term, on potential options to help the city meet its housing targets over the next 10 years.

City director of planning and development Deanna Wasnik said the issue is “top of mind” for city administration, and recommended the report be included in the major review of the city’s official community plan taking place next year.

“I think Mz. Wasnik’s team are going to be up to their neck in 2023 in developing the new official community plan,” Mayor Lyn Hall said. “So thank you for not putting a timeline on that.”

Even though the report won’t come back until after the election, Coun. Garth Frizzell said its important for the work of city council to continue.

“Whoever the next council is, we’re leaving behind substantial rebuilt reserves as well, not just the Terasen money, but other reserves that have been rebuilt over the past few years as well,” Frizzell said. “So I think there is going to be very important questions ahead for the next council.”

Coun. Terri McConnachie said she hesitated to support the motion, because the new council will have their own priorities.

“I’ll support it because it is broad enough because I think it could apply to a future council and future planning for our planning department,” McConnachie said.