8 Island communities among next 20 with housing targets set by province

8 Island communities among next 20 with housing targets set by province

Eight communities on Vancouver Island are among the list of the next 20 that will have housing targets set by the B.C. government.

Central Saanich, Colwood, Esquimalt, Nanaimo, North Cowichan, North Saanich, Sidney and View Royal are the Island communities identified on the list. The remaining 12 elsewhere in the province are Chilliwack, Kelowna, City of Langley, Maple Ridge, Mission, New Westminster, City of North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Prince George, Surrey, West Kelowna and White Rock.

The province says the 20 communities were chosen due to being high-growth and high-needs areas where more action is needed to build more homes, quicker.

“We are addressing the housing crisis with our municipal partners so thousands more affordable homes can be built for people who need them,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of housing.

“Our goal for the next 20 communities is to build on the work they are already doing, while they continue to implement the recent provincial legislative changes. This group includes communities that are doing well on housing and some that need to do more.”

The province announced 10 communities in May 2023 to have housing targets, with three Island communities on that list — Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay.

Victoria was tasked with building 4,902 units, Saanich with 4,610 units and Oak Bay with 664 within five years.

READ PREVIOUS: Province set targets of combined 10K housing units for three South Island municipalities

The province says it will monitor the first 10 and subsequent 20 communities to see their progress in building more housing.

CHEK News asked the province for an update on the first 10 communities progress since the targets were set, and the Ministry of Housing said progress reports from those communities are due soon.

“Six-month progress reports from each of the first cohort municipalities are expected to be presented at municipal Council meetings in mid-May,” the statement said.

“Under the Housing Supply Act, all progress reports must be presented in a municipal Council meeting that is open to the public and passed by resolution before being submitted to the Minister of Housing. Ministry staff will evaluate progress toward achieving the first-year housing targets.”

View Royal council recently discussed, then defeated in a tie vote, a development moratorium. At the time of discussion, Sid Tobias, the mayor of View Royal, told CHEK News the goal of hitting pause was to “allow for a comprehensive evaluation, strategic alignment, public engagement and the review of existing development provincial housing legislation and our Official Community Plan.”

One of the councillors who voted against the motion said she didn’t think this was the right time to pass a motion like this, not wanting to draw the province’s attention.

“To me, this isn’t the right time to bring View Royal so to the attention of the province, when it’s looking to increase housing supply in the region, and has eyes on View Royal specifically for me to support this motion would be a folly,” Gery Lemon said.

“We all want mindful development in our town that respects our distinct character and our values and enhances it just a place to live, but I also don’t want to be tickling an elephant.”

READ PREVIOUS: ‘Don’t want to be tickling an elephant’: View Royal 6-month rezoning moratorium fails on a tie vote

Ahead of the meeting to discuss the motion, Kahlon had a message for the View Royal council.

“The message to them is to consider themselves part of British Columbia. We’re all in a housing crisis, and all communities have to play their part,” Kahlon said via a Zoom call on June 6, 2023.

“There are not many councils who have said what the View Royal mayor and council is saying across the province. I talk to mayors and councils all the time. It’s very rare to hear a mayor say, in the middle of a housing crisis, we’re not doing anything to contribute to that.”

On the other hand, Colwood recently celebrated that it is accelerating development and adding more houses to its municipality.

“It’s pretty exciting times for us right now,” Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi said on Feb. 12, announcing the Beachlands development. “I think this is going to be a real source of pride for Colwood. I think we found that right balance right now, between nature and innovation.”

READ PREVIOUS: Colwood boom also comes with growing pains as development expands

-With files from CHEK’s Mary Griffin

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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