Liberals to give low-cost loans for new B.C. rental housing program

Click to play video: 'Feds, B.C. look to kickstart housing construction on provincial land'
Feds, B.C. look to kickstart housing construction on provincial land
WATCH: There’s a new federal initiative to be unveiled next week aimed at tackling Canada’s growing housing crisis. Global News has learned that the federal government will team up with the province of British Columbia to give developers a building boost through cheaper federal loans in the hopes of kickstarting construction on provincial land. The new partnership aims to remove red tape and zoning barriers that often delay the building process. Mackenzie Gray reports – Feb 18, 2024

The Trudeau Liberals are set to announce that the federal government will provide low-cost loans in British Columbia to help build rental housing on provincially owned land, according to senior government sources.

The federal government will partner with British Columbia Premier David Eby on the newly announced BC Builds program, which aims to help middle-income earners live in the area where they work.

Sources tell Global News the federal help will be structured similarly to other Liberal housing loan programs, like the billions available for developers to build purpose-built rentals, and to universities to construct student housing.

The B.C. provincial government has committed nearly $3 billion to fund the program, and Eby hinted last week that additional help from the federal government would allow the program to expand beyond the estimated 4,000 units it will build by 2026.

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“I had a really great conversation with Prime Minister Trudeau about what we’re doing here, the leadership we’re showing in B.C. and I know there’s a lot of interest at the federal level,” said Eby.

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Click to play video: 'BC NDP, BC United reveal plans to tackle B.C.’s housing crisis'
BC NDP, BC United reveal plans to tackle B.C.’s housing crisis

According to sources, a key part of Ottawa’s interest in the plan centers around the speed at which Eby is promising to build units. Global News is not identifying the sources as they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Eby says the 20 projects chosen by the province will average a “concept-to-construction” timeline of 12 to 18 months, compared to the current three to five year average to complete a rental project.

The sources said if other provinces are willing to implement similar plans to B.C.’s, the Trudeau Liberals would be willing to cut similar deals to access federal loans or funding.

Building additional housing units quickly is a political imperative for the Liberals, with recent polls indicating that 39 per cent of Canadians view housing affordability as their top concern.

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That economic anxiety has propelled the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals by nine points in recent polling done by Ipsos for Global News.

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