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B.C. mayor 'calling BS' on province's new housing target list

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The province revealed 20 more cities that will be getting housing targets on Tuesday, but the mayors of some communities on the list argue that they’re already doing everything they can to build and that they’re being singled out.

“I’m calling BS on this priority list,” said New Westminster Mayor Patrick Johnstone. His and 19 other municipalities have been identified by the housing ministry as “high-growth, high-need regions” and will need to meet a yet-to-be-announced number of units built in five years’ time.

“This government has to stop pointing fingers and has to start doing its job to get housing built,” Johnstone said at a press conference held in front of an empty lot the city approved for affordable housing in 2021.

He argued that New Westminster getting put on what some have called the “housing naughty list” makes no sense, as the city has been “leading the region” when it comes to approving rental homes and increasing density.

“We’re doing our job as a city at getting housing built,” Johnstone said. “The only place that we’re falling short of community need is in subsidized and supportive housing and it’s not because we’re not approving it…it’s because the province refuses to fund affordable housing at a scale that meets the crisis that we’re facing.”

“It’s not about friends, it’s about getting housing built,” Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon retorted.

Kahlon insisted the new group of 20 municipalities are not a “naughty list,” specifically naming New Westminster, the City of North Vancouver, Kelowna and the Langley City as communities that are doing a good job when it comes to getting homes built.

“There are some communities on this list that have been doing some good work, and there are some communities that need to be doing much more,” he told reporters at the legislature Tuesday.

He explained that the goal of the legislation is to “align our targets” as cities develop and make sure “we’re all doing it in co-ordination.”

North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan echoed Johnstone’s sentiment. She said in a statement that she was surprised to find a housing target was “ordered” for the city given that it already meets regional growth strategy targets.

“In my previous conversations with the minister I have been very clear that the city’s growth cannot be scaled up as a result of ordering a housing target,” she wrote.

Buchanan instead asked the province for funding for non-market housing and infrastructure projects such as a new Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and a rapid transit connection to the North Shore.

“I appreciate the province sees our community as a high-priority partner for further investment and collaboration on housing. I look forward to the details of the infrastructure supports and regulatory changes the province will bring to the table to support the housing supply people need and deserve,” she wrote.

In the meantime, the province says a report on the progress of the 10 cities initially named in the Housing Supply Act is expected in May, while the specific targets for the 20 new municipalities will be announced sometime in the summer.

The full list of communities that have been given housing targets by the province follows below:

Cities announced Tuesday:

  • Central Saanich
  • Chilliwack
  • Colwood
  • Esquimalt
  • Kelowna
  • City of Langley
  • Maple Ridge
  • Mission
  • Nanaimo
  • New Westminster
  • North Cowichan
  • North Saanich
  • City of North Vancouver
  • Port Coquitlam
  • Prince George
  • Sidney
  • Surrey
  • View Royal
  • West Kelowna
  • White Rock

Cities announced in 2023:

  • Abbotsford – 7,240 units
  • Delta – 3,607 units
  • Kamloops – 4,236 units
  • District North Vancouver – 2,838 units
  • Oak Bay – 664 units
  • Port Moody – 1,694 units
  • Saanich – 4,610 units
  • Vancouver – 28,900 units
  • Victoria – 4,902 units
  • West Vancouver – 1,432 units

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