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British Columbia

B.C. eyes community, non-profit, underused lands to build affordable rental units

VANCOUVER — B.C. Premier David Eby says the private market can’t solve the province’s housing crisis, as his government launches an almost $3 billion public housing program to build more affordable rental units for middle-income earners.

The New Democrat government says the BC Builds program will target land owned by governments, community and non-profits and provide low-cost financing to fast-track rental property developments on underutilized lands in communities across B.C.

Eby says the strategy stands in contrast to the “predictable” outcomes when government exited the housing market, “speculators ran wild” and prices and rents rose.

The government hasn’t provided estimates of the numbers of rental units it expects the program will develop, but says it has already identified 20 sites with the potential to build up to 4,000 rental units.

Eby says they are aiming for a concept-to-construction timeline of 12 to 18 months to build the housing, compared with the current three-to-five-year average to complete rental projects.

He says the BC Builds program is part of the NDP government’s housing strategy, which now totals $19 billion and includes last year’s initiatives to restrict short-term rentals, relax zoning regulations to permit more multi-residential housing developments and build more homes along transit corridors.

The BC Builds announcement comes just ahead of the start of its spring legislative session next week and the introduction of the government’s budget on Feb. 22, with a provincial election set for the fall.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2024.

The Canadian Press


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