B.C. municipalities will get $61 million in funding to assist in meeting new provincial development and zoning changes meant to help address the housing crisis, Premier David Eby said Friday.
Eby made the announcement during his speech at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (BBCM) conference in Vancouver.
The province is expected to unveil new legislation this fall superseding municipal zoning to allow for more densification as a part of its plan to address a critical housing shortage.
Eby acknowledged those changes will create more work for municipalities and require more resources, and that he’s heard from local governments that they don’t have enough staff to meet the challenge.
“My commitment to you is that the provincial government, we’re going to pull our weight when it comes to making sure we’re doing our work on this side,” he said.
“We have heard you and my announcement today is the provincial government will be providing $61 million for support for local governments to be able to ensure your housing policy is the best it can possibly be.”
The funding will be split into two streams, staring with $51 million already allocated in the 2023 budget that will be distributed over three years to help accelerate housing approvals at a municipal level.
An additional $10 million will go to opening a second intake in the Local Government Development Approvals Program, a grant fund managed by the UBCM to implement best practices and test new approaches to improve development approvals.
“We also want you to have the capacity to reach out to other local governments and see what are they doing,” Eby said.
“Is something working better down the road, are there things you can coordinate together and be more efficient? You can’t do this if you don’t have the resources.”
In his speech, Eby also pledged $4.75 million to rural and volunteer firefighting teams across B.C. and $20 million to improve supports for people who must travel from rural communities for cancer treatment.