B.C. government orders 60,000 new homes built in 10 municipalities the next five years

The downtown Vancouver skyline is seen in the distance beyond houses in Burnaby, B.C., in July 2023.  (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The downtown Vancouver skyline is seen in the distance beyond houses in Burnaby, B.C., in July 2023. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The B.C. government has ordered 10 of the largest municipalities in the province to build more than 60,000 new units of housing over the next five years — or face consequences.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced the exact numbers for net new units in the 10 municipalities on Tuesday, months after the province first said those communities would be targeted as part of the government's push for additional housing supply.

"We're taking action and working with municipal partners to make sure more homes are built in communities with the greatest housing need," said Kahlon in a statement.

"The targets include thousands of below-market rental units for the largest and fastest-growing communities. This means more people will be able find a home in the community they love."

The 10 municipalities are Vancouver, Victoria, Kamloops, Abbotsford, Delta, Saanich, North Vancouver District, Port Moody, Oak Bay and West Vancouver.

Overall, the number of units they're being asked to add to their housing stock in the next five years ranges from 28,900 in Vancouver to 664 in Oak Bay — but when adjusted for population, all 10 would see an increase of units between eight and 14 per cent by 2028.

In addition, the province has put in place separate sub-targets for each municipality by year, by whether the units are rentals or ownership, by whether the rentals are market or below market, and by number of bedrooms.

If municipalities fail to meet their targets, the government has said they retain the option of appointing an adviser or issuing a directive that could usurp the traditional jurisdiction of municipalities to oversee land use within their boundaries.

Eby in Ottawa

Kahlon said the 10 chosen communities were selected through "an objective, thorough and measured process" that factored in metrics, including projected growth, housing and land availability, affordability, community infrastructure and "unrealized potential in developing more homes."

Premier David Eby, who has spent two days in Ottawa meeting with federal ministers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, says affordable housing would be made available quicker with the co-ordination of all levels of government.

He says the federal ministers were receptive to that pitch.

Eby's trip to Ottawa comes after the federal government announced a $4 billion Housing Accelerator Fund in its 2022 Budget that would provide incentive funding to local governments to encourage initiatives that lead to new housing supply.

"My understanding is the federal government is close to being able to make announcements in terms of the allocation of that funding to support growth in cities, which is very good news," Eby told reporters Tuesday.

"The challenge or the opportunity, I guess, is to co-ordinate that municipal accelerator program with the cities that our housing minister has been working with on housing targets."

The premier said he also made "very good progress" in advancing the interest of B.C. residents in his meetings with the federal ministers, noting he is "particularly happy" with his discussions around how the federal and provincial governments can work together to support the clean energy sector.