Trudeau announces $2B to support B.C. housing projects

21 February 2024
Trudeau announces B to support B.C. housing projects

Premier says prime minister has taken note of the province’s initiatives to increase stock, affordability.

The federal government has committed $2 billion to help finance B.C. Builds, a new program aimed at constructing thousands of rental homes on underused public land, which would then be available to middle-income earners in those communities.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the funds at a news conference alongside B.C. Premier David Eby and Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim in Vancouver on Tuesday morning.

Trudeau called the provincial housing plan “ambitious and fundamentally practical” and said the additional federal financing will help create another 8,000 to 10,000 new homes.

The money comes on top of $2 billion in low-cost provincial financing to fast-track affordable rental developments on government-, community- and non-profit-owned and underused land.

The province is also committing $950 million to build rental homes under the B.C. Builds program, which aims to bring down building costs, speed up the development process and offer low-cost land, financing and grants.

Eby said the additional federal funding will be “transformational,” while Trudeau praised Eby’s government for its work through several programs announced in the past six months that aim to help provide housing in areas where many residents struggle to acquire and pay for adequate shelter.

“Thank you for stepping up with such a strong vision on the provincial side, understanding what is good for B.C. ends up being good for the entire country,” Trudeau said at the news conference.

Hamish Telford, an associate professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley, said governments across Canada are focused on the housing issue and it’s no surprise Trudeau is doing news conferences with Eby about the matter.

“They have a common electorate particularly in the Lower Mainland area … so I think those two orders of government do want to co-operate on this important issue.”

The province has so far identified 20 sites for possible construction.

The new homes will be available to families based on their income on a community-by-community basis, Trudeau said, calling it “truly targeted for the middle class.”

The B.C. Builds program promises to use lower government borrowing rates to offer financing and grants to bring down construction costs. The province says a team will help “streamline approvals” to have projects completed within 12 to 18 months.

It says renters will be “income tested” when they move in to one of the buildings with the aim of spending no more than 30 per cent of their income on rent.

Cost of living focus of throne speech

Trudeau’s announcement comes as provincial policymakers return to the legislature for the throne speech to begin the spring legislative session.

The premier has said the upcoming session will see his government table 20 pieces of new legislation and a budget focused on helping families facing the high cost of living.

The provincial government passed legislation last fall to restrict short-term rentals and build more housing around public transit areas, and housing is expected to be a major focus again this spring.

During the throne speech Tuesday, Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin said the B.C. Builds program would move ahead with full force this year.

“These homes will also be built faster with more efficient provincial and local government approvals,” Austin told the legislature.

“And they will be income tested, designed for middle-class people who keep our communities working. Think of homes connected to schools or on top of community centres and libraries.”

Opposition B.C. United Leader Kevin Falcon said the government’s housing plans have come without any focus on outcomes or results.

“The reality is much different than what we’re hearing here, with all these flowery words,” he said at a news conference. “We made it clear, if you want more affordable housing, make it less expensive. We don’t want to see more high housing prices. We don’t want to see more higher rents.”

Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said the throne speech did not address the mounting issue in B.C. that the gap between rich and poor keeps getting wider.

“Once again from the B.C. NDP, we see a lack of strategy, a lack of action, a lack of accountability for their spending,” she said in a statement. “There’s nothing tying all of this together.”

Source: cbc

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