The B.C. government is expecting 10 municipalities in the Lower Mainland, on Vancouver Island and in the Interior to build hundreds or thousands of new housing units in targets released on Tuesday.
If met, the five-year goals mean the selected communities would build 38 per cent more stock than what they would have otherwise, based on historic trends, according to the Ministry of Housing.
“The housing crisis is hurting people, holding back our economy and impacting the services we all count on,” Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said in a news release.
“The targets include thousands of below-market rental units for the largest and fastest-growing communities. This means more people will be able to find a home in the community they love.”
Municipalities facing new building targets include Oak Bay (664 units), West Vancouver (1,432 units), Port Moody (1,694 units), North Vancouver (2,838 units), Delta (3,607 units), Kamloops (4,236 units), Saanich (4,610 units), Victoria (4,902 units), Abbotsford (7,240 units) and Vancouver (28,900 units).
The targets are authorized by the B.C. Housing Supply Act. According to the province, each municipality was consulted on its respective target and selected for assessment in May based on the urgency of their housing needs.
The unit goals only address 75 per cent of the identified housing need over a five-year timeframe, however, based on each community’s projected population growth.
Municipalities will be assessed on their progress after six months and every year afterward, the province said.
“Saanich is whole-heartedly committed to working together on housing solutions and improving supply and affordability,” Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock said at a press conference.
“Changing are also coming to our development process with the goal of moving applications through review and approval much more quickly.”
The targets come with guidelines, including a recommended number of units by bedroom size, rental units versus units for ownership, below-market rental units and units with on-site support services.
Kahlon said he expects between 16 and 20 municipalities will ultimately be issued targets each year for the next three years.
The plan comes on the heels of a B.C. government delegation to Ottawa, where Premier David Eby, Kahlon and five other cabinet ministers pressed for federal support on a number of emerging crises, including housing.
“We need cities to hit these targets otherwise British Columbians are still going to struggle to find rental housing, they’re still going to struggle to find a place with bedrooms for their family,” Eby said in Ottawa on Tuesday.
“Nobody wants failure here, everybody wants success and we’re going to keep pushing in that direction.”
Municipalities are receiving a shared $61 million in provincial funds to help implement the targets, in addition to funds under the $1-billion Growing Communities Fund launched in February.
Earlier this month, the federal government announced it would eliminate the GST on the construction of all new rental apartment buildings.
Shortly afterward, B.C. brought in two new measures under its new multi-billion-dollar housing plan: a new guide for homeowners who want to build and manage a rental suite on their property, and a one-stop shop digital hub for homebuilding permit applications to help clear backlogs.
Both were launched in anticipation of planned legislation to make secondary suites legal throughout B.C. and an incentive program offering some 3,000 homeowners forgivable loans of up to $40,000 to build and rent them below market rate.
The province’s four-point housing strategy commits $4 billion over three years and $12 billion over a decade to boosting stock and lowering prices, changing provincewide zoning laws to allow more townhomes, duplexes, triplexes and row homes, and implementing a tax on the proceeds of house-flipping.