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The BC government announced today that 10 communities will be targeted under the Housing Supply Act—including six in the Lower Mainland—to encourage more homes to be built in municipalities with the highest need.

Abbotsford, Delta, Port Moody, Vancouver, and the districts of North Vancouver and West Vancouver are all part of the plan’s initial cohort, alongside Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria on the Island, and Kamloops in the Interior.

“The housing crisis is hurting people and holding back our economy, and we’re taking action with our partners to cut red tape and get homes built faster for people,” Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon said in a statement.

Communities were chosen based on a weighted index that included measures of density, affordability, proximity to amenities, number of unhoused residents, and waitlist for social housing.

Two rental market reports in May found Vancouver continued to have the least affordable rent in Canada. found that average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver was $2,787, up 14.7 per cent compared to 2022, while Zumper found average rent was $2,600, up 18.2 per cent year-on-year. Victoria also appeared in both reports with average one-bed rents at $2,000, though no other targeted municipalities made the list. Burnaby, the third least-affordable city for renters, was not included in the list.

The Housing Supply Act, announced in November, allows the provincial government to “establish housing targets for a specified municipality in relation to housing supply, including the availability and affordability of housing,” per the act’s wording. These targets will be finalized over the summer.

After that, the province will “monitor progress and work with municipalities to help address any barriers,” helping to streamline permitting, updating zoning bylaws, and speeding up construction of new homes.

If cities don’t meet their targets, the act includes provincial “compliance options as a last resort”—which includes issuing directives to enact or amend bylaws, or issuing or refusing specific permits.

Previously in his role as Housing Minister, Premier David Eby hinted that the province could withhold funding from municipalities that don’t comply with housing supply regulations. Such penalties aren’t obviously clear in the text of the Housing Supply Act.

“It’s great to see the provincial government taking an increased leadership role in ensuring the delivery of more housing across the province,” Mayor Ken Sim said in a statement.

While speeding up construction of new housing is important, the shape of the targets for each municipality are yet to be seen—including what amounts of affordable, below-market or social housing may be included.

A March report from the BC Real Estate Association suggested the province needed to build 43,000 new homes per year to counteract rising demand plummeting affordability—about 25 per cent more homes than usual. In both 2021 and 2022, BC registered over 50,000 new homes built.

More communities are set to be included in the plan this year: a second group of eight to 10 municipalities will be selected later in 2023.


Story by: The Georgia Straight