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Burnaby mayor shocked by how federal housing minister postponed housing funding

Despite the province laying out bold housing targets Tuesday – demanding 10 communities across B.C. create 60,000 units in the next five years – there were concerns Wednesday about how the housing crisis is being managed at all levels of government.

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley was frustrated by how federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser communicated some bad news for his city.

“It’s absolutely shocking the way that this all rolled out,” said Hurley on Wednesday, reacting to Fraser’s tweet Tuesday that suddenly put the brakes on funding he'd promised to the cities of Burnaby and Surrey.

Fraser indicated in his online message that he was postponing an announcement about housing accelerator funding because Metro Vancouver had proposed increasing fees charged to developers.

“I’m absolutely frustrated,” said Hurley Wednesday.

“I mean, we – in good faith – played by their rules … We went through the application process and we were successful with our application.”

So far, no communities in B.C. have received any of the $4 billion in housing accelerator funds promised by Ottawa two years ago.

“I think the frustration for many municipalities is the timing and how long it's taking to get it rolled out,” said Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto on Wednesday.

A lack of action by the province was also in the crosshairs of the Opposition BC United Wednesday.

“Announcements are made without information or clarification on what they actually mean,” said housing critic Karin Kirkpatrick.

She took aim at the province's pledge to create missing middle housing throughout B.C. – an announcement made earlier this year, but without details confirmed.

“A lot of developers and housing builders came to me and said, 'We were going to build something, but now we're not, because we don’t know the details.'”

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon says those details are coming this fall.

"Our legislation will unlock the opportunity for that kind of housing to be built," said Kahlon. "(We're) looking forward to bringing it into the house so everyone has the details real soon."

As for the spat between Metro Vancouver and Ottawa, Kahlon says an emergency meeting was held Tuesday night and another meeting is planned in a few days, as all levels of government continue to struggle with a crisis expected to leave a supply gap of 610,000 homes by 2030 if the pace of building doesn't increase. 

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