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Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay directed to build 10,176 housing units

We now know how many new homes the BC government is directing the province’s most housing-starved municipalities—including Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay—to build within the next five years.

Mark Brennae
September 26, 2023
Community
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay directed to build 10,176 housing units

We now know how many new homes the BC government is directing the province’s most housing-starved municipalities—including Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay—to build within the next five years.

Mark Brennae
Sep 26, 2023
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Community
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay directed to build 10,176 housing units

We now know how many new homes the BC government is directing the province’s most housing-starved municipalities—including Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay—to build within the next five years.

Mark Brennae
September 26, 2023
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Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay directed to build 10,176 housing units
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

The BC government has released housing targets for 10 municipalities with the most pressing need for homes—including Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay, which collectively are expected to build 10,176 units within five years.

“The housing crisis is hurting people, holding back our economy and impacting the services we all count on,” Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said in a release.

In addition to the Island municipalities, the group comprises Abbotsford, Delta, Kamloops, North Van, Port Moody, Vancouver and West Van.  And the government has pegged it to build slightly north of 60K new units.

Under authority of the Housing Supply Act—which allows the BC government to set housing targets in communities with the most urgent housing needs—Vancouver will do the heavy lifting with 28,900 new units expected to be built. Abbotsford is next with 7,240 units.

“The targets include thousands of below-market rental units for the largest and fastest-growing communities,” Kahlon said.

The list of municipalities in most need of more housing was announced in May but the amount they were expected to see built was not made public until now. A second group of eight to 10 municipalities is to be announced later this year.

The figures represent a 38% boost to the number of new units to be built compared with municipal projections, according to the province.

Saanich development near Uptown lauded

“This development is a great example of what is possible when we work together,” said Kahlon, speaking metres from Saanich’s nine-acre Nigel Valley project, which is expected to house 800 new dwellings, including approximately 440 affordable rental homes.

“And [it’s] also a reminder of how we must act urgently, to prevent projects like this from stalling in the development phases.”

Kahlon said besides the slow approval process, rising interest rates, the cost of building materials and labour shortages also have contributed to the housing crisis.

“More homes are needed to keep up with the current demand, both here in the fast-growing community of Saanich and throughout BC,” the minister said.

“The urgency for the types of homes that we’re announcing today is dire—and not just across the region, but the entire province,” said Virginia Holden, executive director of the Victoria Housing Society. 

“Unfortunately over the last 20 years, building affordable housing has not been easy . . . and often, frankly, it’s been damn hard, and this comes to pass due to the battle against density, long approval timelines, rising costs and the lack of funding opportunities,” she said.

“This must change.” 

There's a formula

The BC government has placed guidelines—including a recommended number of rental units (as opposed to for-sale units), units by bedroom size, and below-market rentals—on how the municipalities reach their targets.

For example, of Victoria’s target of 4,902 newly built units, the majority—3,483—are to be rentals, while 1,419 would be for sale.

In Saanich, 2,495 of the new units are to be rentals and 2,115 for sale.  

Things are reversed in Oak Bay (more new housing for sale than new rentals) where 246 of the appointed 664 new units are to be rentals and almost twice that—418 units, will be put up for sale.

Kahlon said the province will assess how the project is going in six months and could appoint an "independent person" if municipalities drag their feet.

A lot of money is involved

The BC government provided $10M for municipalities to help speed up the approval process, in addition to the $1-billion Growing Communities Fund launched earlier this year and the recently announced $51 million to support local governments in meeting new density initiatives.

The announcement comes as Kahlon, Premier David Eby, and other cabinet ministers returned from a visit to Ottawa where they pushed the federal government to help the provinces dig out from the housing crisis.

The feds announced a $4B housing accelerator fund last year, but have not yet said how that money would be divvied up.

"My understanding is the federal government is close to being able to make announcements in terms of the allocation of that funding to support growth in cities, which is very good news," Eby told reporters Tuesday, The Canadian Press reported. 

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