The B.C. government is struggling to stay on schedule with its promise to build affordable housing in the province.
According to the first quarter update from the Affordable Housing Investment Plan Report, 37 per cent of projects have been delayed by more than six months and 22 per cent have had minor schedule adjustments.
“I am not concerned at all. We have 6,300 units that are being actively constructed as we speak,” Housing Minister Selina Robinson said.
“We are working through the municipal process. That takes time.”
According to the provincial government, 22,459 units are underway as of the end of August, with a goal of 38,910 units of publicly-funded housing planned over 10 years.
Of those 22,459 units, 3,281 homes are complete and 6,304 are under construction. The remaining 12,874 units are in earlier stages of the development and approval process.
The BC Liberals raised the issue of delays in Question Period on Thursday.
Housing critic Todd Stone says the report clearly indicates the government will struggle to fulfill its campaign promise of building 114,000 rental and co-op homes.
“John Horgan has let down the very people he made the biggest promise to in the last election. To mislead British Columbians, especially the most vulnerable people in our communities who need safe housing, is simply reprehensible,” Stone said.
“After promising to build 114,000 homes over 10 years, we are now two-and-a-half years into that plan and just over 2,200 units have been completed. At this rate, it would take Horgan’s NDP government over 100 years to meet their target.”
Responding to the questions, Robinson says the BC Liberals had an opportunity to address the housing crisis and didn’t.
“I’m very proud. I’m very proud of the work that we have done, because we have over 22,000 units that have actually been initiated. They are in progress,” Robinson said.
“I think it’s important to remind everybody, to remind British Columbians, that the previous government, under their 16 years — 16 years — did only 22,000. We’re already doing more in two years.”
Robinson says the province has focused on housing for those who are most in need, including the construction of modular housing units.
“We have opened up well over 2,000 homes for people who are homeless. We are continuing to build more traditional builds that take longer,” Robinson said.
“We have been at this for less than two years.”
The quarterly report shows a little more than half of the housing projects have been “initiated.” According to the report, that means they have been announced but no financial commitment has been made towards them.
“Housing Minister Selina Robinson has spent an awful lot of energy doing photo-ops and re-announcing BC Liberal projects. What she seems to spend little time on is actually getting projects funded and shovels in the ground,” Stone said.
“British Columbians deserve so much better from John Horgan and the NDP.”
But Robinson called the opposition’s argument “bogus” stating that funding has been set aside even if the money hasn’t been transferred over to pay for construction that hasn’t yet started.