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B.C. government looks to acquire land around transit hubs for housing, amenities

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The B.C. government has introduced changes to the Transportation Act that will allow the province to acquire land for the purpose of building housing and community amenities around transit development.

If passed, the province will have the power to buy up land near SkyTrain developments and near bus loops.

“Public transit isn’t just about getting people from A to B, it’s also about building greener and more liveable communities. This will be a game-changer,” Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said.

“We will increase the level of affordable housing and services that are integrated into our significant investments in transit.”

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Previously the province was restricted to buying land that was only deemed absolutely necessary for the footprint of a transit station.

The legislation would allow the province to pair up with BC Housing, land developers and non-profits to update community plans and build housing density.

The new powers will also allow the province to work with municipalities to build child care centres, shops and commercial services, schools and health-care centres, educational facilities, public gathering spaces and recreation centres.

“On the Canada Line in Vancouver there were a lot of missed opportunities there for densification and a couple that were done retroactively but did not have affordable housing,” Fleming said.

“We are doing things differently on the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain.”

One of the upcoming challenges will be the extension of the Broadway extension to UBC.

There have been concerns raised along the corridor about density and whether projects will be in place that will fundamentally change current neighbourhoods.

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