Thursday, May 11, 2017

Kelowna, BC Encouraging Modular Construction

Kelowna Mayor Andrew Jakubeit says city hall is attempting to streamline the process of bringing more development into the city in an effort to keep the market flowing.

Newly re-elected MLA Dan Ashton told Castanet in a one-on-one last week that part of the burden of making housing more affordable falls on the shoulders of local governments and how fast they can bring more development. By boosting the supply, he argues, the cost of housing should go down.

Last week's council meeting brought a new development to the city and advances an agenda of densifying the downtown area – a 32-unit apartment building, with office and retail space in a total elevation of eight floors.

That development would be constructed through pre-built modules manufactured by Moduline Modular, craned into position for a faster build, which Jakubeit argues helps to get people into housing faster.

"It's really exciting that we're using a modular construction design, and there's several modular home builders and companies in the Okanagan, in Penticton particularly," Jakubeit said. "For them to create another sort of vertical market for them instead of just building modular homes ... (helps) us with densification so we can get people into buildings faster."


In general, Jakubeit added that the city is looking to keep the developments flowing in town to help densify places like downtown.

"Last year, we had a record year. Three times higher than what we normally do," he said. "This year, construction activity's higher than it was the year before, and so we're really trying to focus on our process in terms of how we approve things and how fast we can approve things."

For Jakubeit, hastening the development process isn't just about affordability.

"The sooner a developer can get a shovel in the ground, the sooner people can move in, the sooner we can actually collect taxes," he said. "A lot of things are at play here."

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