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Kahlon pushes back on claims B.C. housing plan is reheated leftovers

Housing minister says BC Builds program a 'game-changer.'
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Ravi Kahlon, B.C.'s minister of housing, appeared at the Union of BC Municipalities 2024 Housing Summit where he spoke about the newly announced BC Builds program.

B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon is brushing off criticism the province’s newly announced BC Builds program is not as groundbreaking the government is touting it to be.

He responded to critiques that it resembles an existing BC Housing program while at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) 2024 Housing Summit in Vancouver on Tuesday.

“Disappointing announcement from Eby today. Recycling old funding for another Government-knows-best Photo Op won't build new homes,” said BC United Leader Kevin Falcon in a post on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, in response to Premier David Eby’s unveiling of key program details Tuesday morning.

Kahlon was asked by media attending the UBCM conference if the program is another iteration of the HousingHub, a division within BC Housing that allowed developers to access low-cost financing in exchange for building affordable housing.

“The BC HousingHub was created in 2018, in a different market and in a time pre-COVID where we don't have the complexity that we have now. We have dollars now to use government lands to build affordable housing, which we have not been able to do in the province since wartime efforts. I do believe this is a game-changer,” the housing minister said.

The program aims to provide low-cost financing to build rental property developments on land owned by governments, First Nations and non-profits, and is geared towards creating housing for what the province describes as middle-income earners.

The government said it has identified 20 potential sites that would deliver up to 4,000 rental units. The program aims to build this housing within 12-18 months rather than the current average of three to five years that it typically takes to construct a rental project.

“BC Builds is not an affordable housing program, it's not supportive housing, it's not subsidized housing. It's really meant to close the gap above where BC Housing programs end and where we … start to really see a slowdown in rental development if there isn't an intervention,” said Lisa Helps, executive lead for the BC Builds project origination at BC Housing.

clwilson@glaciermedia.ca