New 10-Day Approvals Program Promise Up to 7,000 New Homes in Kelowna

New 10-Day Approvals Program Promise Up to 7,000 New Homes in Kelowna
June 27, 2024

Kelowna's housing market is poised for a significant boost thanks to the City's recently launched Infill Fast-Track Program. This initiative aims to tackle the city's housing shortage by expediting approvals for infill development projects, potentially bringing up to 7,000 new homes to Kelowna's core area.

Breaking Down the Bottleneck

Traditionally, development approvals for infill projects in Kelowna could take anywhere from 2 to 4 months. This lengthy process often discouraged potential developers, hindering the construction of much-needed housing units. The Infill Fast-Track Program cuts through this red tape by offering significantly faster approval times.

Here's how it works

  • Eligible Properties: Over 1,300 multi-family lots (zoned MF1) within Kelowna's core area are now designated for the program. These lots can now accommodate denser development, with 4 to 6 units allowed per property.
  • Fast-Tracked Approvals:  Complete development and building permit applications for these designated lots can be processed and approved within a remarkable 10 business days, provided developers utilize a pre-approved, standardized design.
  • Pre-Approved Designs: To further streamline the process, the City has introduced four pre-approved infill designs. These designs, focusing on suites, carriage houses, and multiplexes, were chosen based on the City's 2022 Infill Design Challenge. The City is actively working on expanding this design library to offer even more options for developers.

Addressing Housing Shortages

The Infill Fast-Track Program is a multi-pronged attack on Kelowna's housing crunch. By speeding up approvals and allowing for denser development, the program is expected to deliver a significant increase in housing supply. James Moore, Kelowna's Housing Policy & Programs Department Manager, estimates the program's potential to yield up to 7,000 new homes.

This initiative also benefits existing homeowners. Recent zoning changes, coupled with the program's focus on infill development, empower homeowners with more flexibility in utilizing their properties. They can now consider building additional suites or carriage houses to create rental income or additional living space for extended family.

Financial Backing and Environmental Considerations

The Infill Fast-Track Program received a significant boost from the $31.5 million Housing Accelerator Fund provided by the Government of Canada and administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This financial support underscores the importance of addressing housing shortages at a national level.

Infill development is generally considered a more environmentally friendly approach to increasing housing supply compared to urban sprawl.  Infill projects typically utilize existing infrastructure, leading to reduced reliance on private vehicles and potentially lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking Ahead

The Infill Fast-Track Program represents a significant step forward for Kelowna's housing market. By streamlining approvals, encouraging denser development, and empowering homeowners, the program has the potential to alleviate housing shortages and create a more diverse housing landscape. While the long-term impact remains to be seen, the program offers a promising outlook for residents seeking new housing options in Kelowna's core area.

Source: Fast Track Infill Housing

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