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UPDATE: B.C.’s middle-income housing program gets $2B from feds

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier David Eby made the announcement in Vancouver
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a housing announcement in Guelph, Ontario on Friday January 12, 2024. Trudeau is in Vancouver today, set to make a housing-related announcement alongside Premier David Eby and Mayor Ken Sim. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The federal government is promising billions for B.C.’s recently announced middle-income housing program.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier David Eby were in Vancouver Tuesday (Feb. 20) for the $2-billion announcement for BC Builds, a new housing program for middle-income earners. They were joined by Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim.

Trudeau said Canada needs more homes that the middle class can afford.

“Our investment, through the BC Builds Program, will use public land to create more affordable housing, bring down the cost of construction and ensure that we build more homes faster so that Canadians - from teachers, to nurses, to construction workers - can afford to stay in the communities where they work.”

The BC Builds team is set to help streamline approvals for projects seeking the federal financing to meet the “12-to-18-month concept-to-construction” timeline.

The provincial government unveiled the long-promised BC Builds on Feb. 13.

READ MORE: B.C. launches new agency to build middle-income rental housing quicker

READ MORE: Capacity and scale questions greet new BC Builds program

Through BC Housing, the BC Builds program aimed at creating more rental housing for middle-income earners by speeding up development on land owned by government, First Nations and non-profits. All projects will have a target of households spending no more than 30 per cent of their income on rent.

The province has already announced $950 million to ensure units are available below market rates. As well, $2 billion was earmarked by B.C. for provincial low-cost construction financing.

BC Builds has already established 20 sites through partnerships with local governments, First Nations and non-profits. Three sites were first announced on Feb. 13, including a 199-unit rental complex on reserve land owned by Cowichan Tribes.

The fourth BC Builds site was announced Tuesday: a nine-storey, 112-unit co-op development, in what the province says is the last “underdeveloped parcel of land in Yaletown.” A minimum of 20 per cent of the units must rent at 20 per cent below market rate.

Construction is set to begin this summer.

The province says that with the federal funding in place, and 20 initial BC Builds sites, an expected 8,000 to 10,000 homes for middle-income earners will be able to be built over the first five years of the program.

READ MORE: New 199-unit rental project to be built on Cowichan Tribes land

Trudeau’s announcement today comes as provincial policymakers return to the Legislature for the throne speech to kickoff the spring legislative session.

Eby said last week at a housing-related news conference he recently spoke with Trudeau about B.C.’s housing initiatives and there appeared to be federal interest in what the province was planning.

The premier says the upcoming session will see his government table 20 pieces of new legislation and a budget focusing 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.

READ ALSO: Housing still ‘thorn’ in Bank of Canada’s side: economists

Following the housing announcement, Trudeau’s public itinerary says he’s headed to a local high school to meet with students before an event at a community centre with seniors in the afternoon.

More to come.

– With files from the Canadian Press

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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