B.C. Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson shows 40-year-old front page where then-minister Bill Vander Zalm promises to cut red tape from housing approval process, UBCM convention, Vancouver, Sept. 25, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. on track for housing plan, minister tells local governments

Opposition rejects claim that 22,000 units built or underway

B.C.’s NDP government is on track to meet its ambitious election commitment of 114,000 homes over a decade, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson told local government representatives Wednesday.

There are more than 22,000 government-funded residences either completed or in process, Robinson told delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver. She said it is more publicly funded housing than the previous government’s 16 years, in only two years.

B.C. Liberal housing critic Todd Stone was quick to contradict that, saying that only 2,300 have actually been opened, including temporary modular housing set up in communities that have grappled with tent camps and accompanying crime and disorder.

“At this rate, it will take 100 years to meet their 114,000-unit promise,” Stone said.

Robinson said her ministry has completed consultation on ways to get housing projects approved more quickly at the municipal level, and pilot projects are ready to go for those councils who want to step up.

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She quoted the newly appointed critic Stone in a radio interview, advocating that the province “get local governments out of the way” to expand housing supply.

Projecting a newspaper front page from 40 years ago where then-Social Credit municipal affairs minister Bill Vander Zalm was promising change, Robinson said her government is going to do it without running roughshod over local councils to mandate zoning.

“Together we can fix the problem that Bill Vander Zalm was going to fix back in 1979,” Robinson said.

Delegates at the convention also endorsed a Maple Ridge resolution calling on the province to consult with local governments before installing modular housing, and ensuring there are supports for people with addictions and mental health issues who are housed there.


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