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B.C. housing supply depends on local, federal help, Horgan says

Ministers questioned on affordability crisis at UBCM
B.C. Premier John Horgan takes questions from municipal politicians at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver, Sept. 17, 2021. (UBCM video)

The B.C. government is doing what it can to increase housing supply, but it needs federal and local government to provide more, Premier John Horgan told local politicians at their annual convention Friday.

Whatever the outcome of Monday’s federal election, the incoming government needs to provide more help to provinces, starting with health care funding that now consumes nearly half of B.C.’s budget and continues to rise with an aging population, Horgan told delegates to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. Health care used to be “a 50-50 proposition” but now provinces fund about 80 per cent of the costs, Horgan said Sept. 17.

In an earlier session with cabinet ministers, Attorney General and housing minister David Eby assured mayors and councillors that more social housing funds will be coming, but the last round of applications from local governments added up to seven times the money available.

Eby said the long-standing problem of inadequate housing supply needs “billions of dollars in private investment” that requires local approval for the land use. He referred to a recent report by an expert panel that called for changes to a public hearing system that amplifies opposition to new housing construction.

While some urban municipalities are deluged with new development applications, there are places like Prince Rupert that desperately need housing and can’t find developers to build it, Eby said.

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