City of Merritt passes resolution for Housing Merritt Project.

On Tuesday, March 12, council passed a resolution to approve a financial plan and post job description for Housing Merritt Project Director.

The Housing Merritt Project aims to address the recent changes made by the province in regards to housing.

The new legislation affects municipalities with more than 5,000 people, like Merritt, which will allow multi-unit developments on single-family and duplex lots, with the numbers of units determined by size of a lot and its proximity to transportation, ranging from three to six.

The changes in the legislation will also mandate more frequent updates to zoning bylaws and official community plans (OCP). A deadline of June 30, 2024, has been set for local governments to bring current bylaws into compliance with the province.

“It’s a bit more complicated now because a lot of communities are doing the same kind of initiatives and are facing a lot of the same housing issues as we are,” said City of Merritt’s Chief Administrative Officer Cynthia White. “So there’s a lot more work being done at the municipal level to develop housing programs and so there’s a lot more competition for someone who’s capable of running this type of program.”

The City is looking to liquidate assets from the flood recovery fund such as trailer homes to turn into revenue.

“The goal is to determine how we can use that revenue to go on and support additional affordable, below market housing in the community, and so the Housing Merritt Project is about determining the best ways for us to approach that,” said White. “Do we start a Housing corporation, do we become an investor in those types of projects, do a grant stream for local developers? We’re not sure yet what’s going to work best in our community and so the first year or so of the project needs to determine our action plan for going forward.”

The City will be working closely with BC Housing and developers said White.

During the first year, the City will spend approximately $975,000 on the Housing Merritt Project. Most notably, the City will be investing $245,520 on pad rentals, $100,000 in housing and homelessness strategy, and $50,000 on housing needs assessment.