The B.C. government is providing $61 million to help local governments address staffing capacity and other challenges as they work to build more housing.
Premier David Eby made the announcement to delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference, saying he understands local governments need support as they implement the province’s vision for increasing housing density.
A joint statement from Eby’s office and the Ministry of Housing says the funding is split into two streams, with $51 million from Budget 2023 set for distribution over three years to help accelerate local housing approval processes.
A further $10 million has been earmarked to create a second intake for an application-based grant fund aimed at supporting local government projects to improve their development approval processes.
“We know we’re in a housing crisis and people are in desperate need of housing,” said B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon in a release Friday.
“This funding will help communities improve their processes to build more homes faster.”
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The province says it also plans to support the Planning Institute of British Columbia to help develop a “peer-learning network.”
The network is intended to help local government staff share their approaches and policies with one another to help speed up and streamline development approvals for housing.
“Our plan to rezone single-family lots throughout the province will allow for an influx of urgently needed housing people can actually afford to rent or buy like duplexes, triplexes and townhouses,” said Eby.
“We know this is going to be an adjustment for some local governments, but we need to take urgent action together. That’s why we’re providing local governments with support to implement these changes, improve their development-approval processes and connect with other communities to share ideas and best practices,” he said.
UBCM president Jen Ford says local governments are grateful for the funding, but are still waiting to see just how this new program will work.
With files from the Canadian Press