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New spending and a 'refreshed' housing strategy on the horizon for B.C.

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As part of its deficit budget, the B.C. government is plugging $4.2 billion into operating and capital funding for its housing strategy over the next three years – but the full details aren’t yet available.

The province says a “refreshed” housing plan will be unveiled in the coming months to address what it describes as new pressures in the housing market.

In line with Premier David Eby’s promise to ease the way for more housing developments, the budget includes money to help reduce rezoning restrictions and build more multi-unit homes. It also announces a new pilot project with financing incentives to encourage homeowners to install secondary suites.

The spending priorities include new homes for renters, middle-income earners and Indigenous people, with $575 million specifically earmarked toward the construction of new student housing in the Lower Mainland, southern Vancouver Island and the Thompson Okanagan.

The plan will include $394 million for developments near transit hubs, while $640 million over three years will build and operate more supportive housing for the homeless. Another $266 million will go towards building and operating additional complex care and supportive housing with enhanced health, mental-health and substance-use services.

After successful pilot projects in recent years, $44 million will go towards modular and supportive housing over three years, while another $109 million will expand shelters and low-income assistance programs, including the Shelter Aid for Elderly Rentals. In the next ten years, $230 million in operating and capital funding will “help revitalize and expand BC Housing’s aging rental stock.”

A new property transfer tax incentive is intended to encourage the construction of purpose-built rentals of at least four units, exempting developers from the further two per cent property transfer tax on residential buildings over $3 million.

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