The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) has kicked off its two-day housing conference, one day after B.C. Premier David Eby laid out a multibillion-dollar housing plan for the province.

More than 500 participants, including municipal and provincial politicians, have registered in the ‘HousingBC Summit,’ which will explore regulation of short-term rentals, local financing opportunities, rezoning, supply-boosting, speculation challenges, housing partnership opportunities, homelessness, and more.

“We need more depth and breadth of housing options and we need to finally unlock the vast majority of the neighbourhoods in our region that have been stuck in time capsules for a number of decades,” Delta, B.C. Coun. Dylan Kruger told 980 CKNW’s The Mike Smyth Show on Tuesday morning.

“This will allow cities to grow naturally, like they have done for thousands of years.”


UBCM holds ‘Housing BC Together’ summit


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On Monday, Eby and Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced a four-pillar plan aimed at cracking down on soaring real estate prices, increasing construction and creating more rental units.

Highlights of the ‘Homes for People’ project include a promise of legislation that allows up to four units on a single traditional housing lot, a tax on the proceeds of housing-flipping, and a forgivable loan of 50 per cent of the cost of basement suite renovations, up to a maximum of $40,000 over five years, if the secondary suites are rented at below-market rate for at least five years.

That pilot is expected to open next year to at least 3,000 homeowners for the first three years. The overall plan is expected to cost $4 billion in the first three years and $12 billion over a decade.

“What I’m most excited about in this plan is the opportunity for zoning reform for municipalities, ensuring that on a single-family lot you can build a duplex, a triplex or a fourplex,” said Kruger.

“Legalizing secondary suites everywhere in B.C. — it’s crazy to me that there’s still cities that don’t allow secondary suites, and also a commitment to work to standardize the approval process across the board — those are big measures that I’m optimistic will make a difference.”


Premier David Eby lays out four-point housing plan for B.C.


Kruger said he’s not clear on how new legislation tabled as part of the plan will “gel” with existing municipal zoning laws, but he thinks it’s a good idea “in theory.” Other mayors and councillors have panned it, he added.

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Jen Ford, president of the UBCM, told The Canadian Press on Monday the union is still reviewing the housing plan and speaking with members before taking a position. The UBCM represents some 188 municipalities across the province.

“We certainly see that the government is moving on this, but how that impacts land-use decisions, transit decisions, is really important to our membership,” Ford said. “So, we’re looking for strong consultation with our members before that regulation is put in place.”

Both Eby and Kahlon are slated to speak at the organization’s housing summit, as are Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas, Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke, BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon, and others.

Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program, said Monday a challenge across the province will be ensuring that as cities “develop and redevelop,” their infrastructure will support new growth in their neighbourhoods. He also suggested B.C. communities introduce rental registries in order to collect better data for informing construction and regulation.

“We certainly have, I think, a reasonable, reasonably good data in terms of purpose-built rental, and that’s courtesy of the CMHC, but then I think there are still outstanding challenges in terms of secondary rental and really, the need to understand what’s really happening in the rental market in British Columbia in a much more real-time.”

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Speaking with Global News Morning on Tuesday, UBCM executive and Coquitlam, B.C. Coun. Trish Mandewo said “now more than ever,” it’s clear that non-profits, and municipal, provincial, Indigenous and federal governments must work together to tackle the complex crisis B.C. finds itself in.

“We really need to make sure that not only do we deliver the housing, but we also look at having the infrastructure needed such as schools, amenities. We need the essential support so we can deliver all of it, in order have the housing options we need,” she explained.

Mandewo said many of the changes proposed in the provincial Homes for People plan are already underway in Coquitlam, but she still called it a “step in the right direction.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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