B.C. sets housing targets for 10 municipalities, urges immediate federal support

SAANICH, B.C. — British Columbia has announced its first set of targets for new homes to be built in 10 municipalities in a provincial strategy to tackle the ongoing housing crisis.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon says the 10 communities, located mostly within the Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria regions, will have five years to deliver on the new housing-unit goals set out in the plan.

Kahlon says the province will assess the progress in six months and that an "independent person" may be put in place in municipalities where actions toward increasing housing aren't being taken.

The announcement comes as Premier David Eby says "it's pretty clear" the federal government is not yet ready to share its renewed housing strategy or how it will work with British Columbia's plans to take on the provincial housing crisis.

Kahlon says the housing crisis is so dire in B.C. that the province is going ahead with its plans without guarantees of federal funding, but he adds that involvement from Ottawa needs to "get into the game in a hurry."

Among the housing targets being announced are 28,900 units for Vancouver, 7,240 units for Abbotsford, 4,902 units for Victoria and 4,610 units for Saanich.

British Columbia first broached the plan to set targets for 10 municipalities in May, which Kahlon said would make it easier for local governments to approve projects quickly.

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."

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 minister's 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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2023.

The Canadian Press