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The Province is further implementing its 30-point Homes for BC plan, announcing:  4,900 mixed-rental units under the Building BC: Community Housing Fund; housing size restrictions for the ALR; and regulations for a new condo and strata assignment register. The federal government has announced a redesigned homelessness strategy backed by $2.2 billion over 10 years.

Provincial Announcements

The 4,900 units announced by the Province will be built in 42 communities across BC over the next 2-3 years. This is the first set of projects selected through the $1.9 billion Building BC: Community Housing Fund that will see 14,000 affordable rental homes built province-wide over 10 years. The new homes will include housing for middle-income individuals and families, deeply subsidized rentals for seniors and others on fixed incomes, and homes for low-wage workers.

Bill 52, the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, 2018, was introduced on November 5 to limit new houses in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to under 500 square meters, except through application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) in cases where it would support farming. The Bill would also require ALC approval of additional residences in the ALR to curb non-farm development. In addition, Bill 52 reinstates a single zone for ALR land in BC and increases penalties for dumping of waste in the ALR.

Following previously announced amendments to the Real Estate Development Marketing Act, the Province has released regulations to create a new condo and strata assignment register. These changes establish new requirements for developers effective January 1, 2019 to:  collect information on assignments and parties to assignments; report this information in an online register; and advise buyers of these new collection and reporting requirements. The BC government will in turn use the information to ensure that the appropriate property transfer tax is paid, and to inform future housing and tax policy development. The BC government will also share the information collected with the Canada Revenue Agency to ensure that appropriate income taxes are paid.

Federal Announcements

The Government of Canada has committed $2.2 billion over 10 years to a newly redesigned homelessness strategy, Reaching Home. This includes $1.2 billion over 9 years to support 4-6 “Designated Communities” in addition to 61 currently Designated Communities. The Rural and Remote Homelessness funding stream will be maintained under the strategy. The strategy will come into force early next year, at which time communities may apply for funding. It will also include new spending targeting Indigenous peoples. This announcement follows the introduction of a new poverty reduction law establishing a benchmark measure of poverty and an advisory council to track progress towards aspirational poverty reduction targets of 20% of 2015 levels by 2020 and 50% by 2030.

Consistency with UBCM Policy

Both federal and provincial announcements are largely consistent with UBCM policy. Notably, UBCM’s housing report both supports the Province’s commitment to construct new affordable housing, and calls for better data to support evidence-based policy including through the creation of a presale registry. Regarding the federal homelessness strategy, membership has consistently called for action on homelessness and poverty reduction. The targeting of some funds towards Indigenous peoples also parallels resolution 2018-B149, which called for acknowledgement and support for urban Indigenous communities.

UBCM will continue to engage with the Province as it implements the Homes for BC plan, and will continue to monitor the roll-out of the National Housing Strategy.