Housing starts need to pick up
Wayne Moore - May 27, 2024 - Biz Releases

Photo: Castanet

The City of Kelowna finds itself lagging below the level needed to achieve housing targets imposed through the Housing Accelerator Fund.

The city received $31.5 million from the federal fund late last year with one of the goals required to receive the entire amount: a target of permitting 7,430 residential units by 2026.

Figures released this week show the city has issued building permits for 296 units during the first quarter of 2024, less than half what the city needs to average (619) each quarter to meet the target.

“Building permit issuance will be monitored closely,” planning staff wrote in a report for council. “Staff are also currently working to create a Housing Accelerator Fund dashboard, which will more easily allow for tracking and sharing project progress.”

Planners say the city has received a first instalment of $7.9 million from the fund. The largest portion of that has been allocated to land acquisition for affordable housing with the remainder to staffing and consulting.

The report details seven initiatives and 20 milestones the city has identified. Of those milestones, six are complete and 10 are in progress.

Staff indicate the total number of building permits issued is down in the first quarter of 2024 compared with a year ago with the value also down from $232 million to $209 million.

The city hit a record $1.75 billion in building permit value in 2023 thanks in part to two massive permits, $262 million for the UBCO downtown tower and $140.6 million for the final phase of Mission Group’s Aqua development.

Looking ahead, planning staff are hopeful provincial and federal programs and incentives could entice some development to move forward that was previously not feasible.

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