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B.C. mayors react to newly unveiled housing targets


The province unveiled its new housing targets for 10 communities across B.C. – which found themselves earlier this year on the so-called “naughty list.”

“These housing targets put forward by the province mark a 30 per cent increase in overall housing to be built in these communities -- compared to what’s been previously planned,” said Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon on Tuesday when he announced the targets.

Vancouver tops the list with a target of 28,900 new housing units to be built in five years’ time. A target Vancouver city councillor Peter Meiszner says is achievable.

“The city and the province are really aligned on this -- and we are very excited to get to work and meet the target,” he said Tuesday shortly after the announcement.

The goal isn’t ambitious enough, however, for some housing advocates, like Owen Brady, with the not-for-profit group Abundant Housing Vancouver.

“If you think about the thousands of people who've been pushed out of the city of Vancouver in the last five years, I think people should look at these targets, to have that happen again,” said Brady.

While Vancouver tops the list, there are significant new builds required in other communities. Abbotsford is required to build 7,240 units, Victoria is targeted at 4,902 units and Saanich is being told to build 4,610 new units.

“We’re being asked to effectively triple our current output, which will challenge our organization,” said Saanich’s mayor Dean Murdock.

The District of Oak Bay needs to build 664 new homes in five years. Its mayor, Kevin Murdoch, says that will be hard -- especially with things like inflation and labour shortages out of the municipality’s control.

“If we’re going to speed up this process, we actually do need help,” said Murdoch. “The best way the province can help us is not wait six months and then tell us we're not achieving the goals, it’s to start working with us day one, today.”

Premier Eby said in a press conference from Ottawa that he expects all municipalities to hit the ground running.

“To start on day one and say we’re not going to be able to hit those targets is not going to be an answer,” said Eby when asked about concerns municipalities had expressed with meeting the goals. “We’re going to work together, we’re going to get through it”

The targets were welcomed by the development community. Kaeley Wise, who advises municipalities and developers on housing issues, said the targets will provide more certainty.

“We’re hoping there will be federal and provincial cash injections as well, which will help them deliver the processes needed,” said Wise.

While the province and Ottawa have said funding support for infrastructure needs is coming,

it remains too vague for some municipalities -- a concern expressed by West Vancouver’s mayor Mark Sager.

“Obviously there are some major challenges facing not only our municipality but all of us in Metro Vancouver,” he said Tuesday.

The province will check in on the 10 communities in six months to see how they’ve progressed. It could appoint an independent party to step in and identify problems if a community is lagging behind. Top Stories


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