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‘It’s irresponsible’: Langley Twp says B.C. housing legislation will result in fewer units there

New B.C.-wide housing density legislation has some communities, including the Township of Langley, saying the province’s one-size-fits-all approach does not fit all.

Mayor Eric Woodward tells CityNews his community wants and has planned for more housing, but says forcing the approval of multi-units on single-family lots is undermining growth plans the township already has in place.

Now, with the new legislation, Bill 44, he claims many of the plans will have to be scrapped.

“I would have preferred that they said, ‘Okay, here’s the draft bill. We’re going to put this on the floor in October, send us your concerns.’ Man, they would’ve gotten a stack. And then could have said what about this, what about that, but they didn’t do that, they just threw them on the floor, and now we’re all scrambling,” he explained.

Woodward says the Township of Langley’s plans to increase housing cater to things like infrastructure and proximity to transit — some rural areas have little to none.

He says the province’s blanket plan puts that in peril, adding this is not sky-is-falling bluster.

The mayor points to existing plans his township has in place, saying the legislation would increase the number of units to something current infrastructure cannot accommodate.

“We have to plan for the worst-case scenario, that is what we planned for. We planned for 50,000 people — now that’s 115,000. Are we supposed to pretend that this isn’t a problem and somehow the schools are going to be fine? Somehow we’re just going to materially have enough school spaces for two and a half times the possible population? It’s irresponsible,” he said.

“We don’t want to put a bunch of apartment buildings … next to farm land with no transit.”

Woodward says the Langley Township, Surrey, and Maple Ridge — all municipalities with large green lands — have asked for exemptions but were refused.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon says communities he’s met with understand what the province is trying to do.

“There are questions about how this will roll out in communities and we’re working with them on those details,” he added of Bill 44.

‘The bill is bad for Langley’: mayor

However, Woodward claims the meeting he had with Kahlon was “very short.”

Bill 44 was tabled earlier this month. It requires local governments to “shift their planning to an up-front framework,” and pre-zone land to meet housing needs, and reduce the use of current rezoning processes. It would also apply to Vancouver, under that city’s own Charter.

Practically, this means amenity costs and agreements would be compiled at the beginning of the project, rather than during the rezoning stage.

“I’m finding a lot of the public don’t even know what some of these terms mean, and so I believe the minister can say these things, like, ‘Well, what’s wrong with it? Just do this or that.’ That’s fair if you’re not a planner or a municipal official, but a lot of what the minister is saying just isn’t going to work,” Woodward explained.

Bill 44 is just one of a number of pieces of legislation the provincial government is putting in place to increase housing across B.C.

“I’m looking at the bill and the bill is bad for Langley. It’s not complicated. It’s not going to produce any housing here that’s not already getting created — in fact, it’s going to delay and, potentially, create less housing than we’d create if we were just left alone,” Woodward said.

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