Sunday October 1, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Five significant aspects of living in BC will see advancements through new provincial legislation this fall: housing, emergency management, mitigating crime, getting more people into jobs for which they are internationally credentialed, and further steps along the path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
Government House Leader, Ravi Kahlon, says the Fall legislative session will take action on “the biggest challenges in BC”.
“Everybody in B.C. wants to be able to build a good life here with an affordable home in a safe community they love, surrounded by quality public services and good job opportunities,” said Kahlon.
The housing file:
Dealing with the housing crisis is at the top of the list, with many aspects covered in a list of new legislative changes covering an overall direction for transition to clean energy, and keeping people safe and communities strong.
To deal with housing, government will bring in several pieces of unique legislation, including new housing legislation that aims to address persistent permitting and zoning challenges, speed up delivery and increase the supply of middle-income housing. Short-term rental accommodations will be dealt with to help increase current rental stock for long-term rental instead of the benefit of homeowners who make properties available for tourism (which is currently outside any taxation that hotels and motels pay into supporting their communities).
Kahlon made two housing-related announcements in Greater Victoria last week — one at Saanich Municipal Hall and one outside a seniors affordable housing complex in the Gorge Road area.
“We have made real progress to deliver more homes for people, but a fast-growing population combined with high interest rates have brought new complexities,” Kahlon said. “The housing crisis is hurting people and that’s why we’re taking action this fall to meet this moment, tackle these challenges head on, and deliver more homes for people, faster.”
Housing bills to be introduced over the fall session are part of the Province’s Homes for People action plan. Announced in spring 2023, the plan builds on record investments in housing since 2017 and sets out several actions to deliver the homes people need in a shorter time, while creating more vibrant communities throughout B.C.
Two key initiatives will include rezoning so that duplex, tri-plexes and four-plexes can be built on lots originally zoned for single-family dwellings. Another initiative will make secondary suites legal in every community across BC.
Budget 2023 supports the Homes for People action plan starting with more than $4 billion over three years and a commitment to invest $12 billion over the next 10 years to deliver more homes for people, faster.
The Province says it is on track to deliver a projected 108,000 homes completed or under active construction by 2027-28, with tens of thousands of more homes to come through other avenues.
Housing actions and legislation this fall include:
These strong actions are necessary in the face of high interest rates, inflation and a growing global housing affordability crisis. They are part of strong legislative agenda this fall, taking action to defend ourselves against today’s biggest challenges, focused on what matters most to people in B.C.
- delivering more small-scale, multi-unit housing that is within reach for middle-income earners, including townhomes, duplexes and triplexes through zoning changes and proactive partnerships;
- allowing secondary and basement suites in every community in B.C.;
- strengthening enforcement of short-term rentals and bringing more long-term rentals back to the housing market;
- speeding up municipal and provincial permitting to reduce costs, remove unnecessary delays and deliver more homes faster; and,
- delivering thousands of new homes in areas well-served by transit and creating more vibrant communities with services near transit hubs.
More than 100,000 people moved to B.C. in 2021, and another 150,000 people in 2022, the most in 60 years. That’s one-quarter of a million people in just two years, and in 2023 the influx continues.
People are in-migrating from other parts of Canada, and arriving from international locations. As Premier Eby said a few months ago, it’s because BC is one of the best places to live. Certainly the additional benefits here during the pandemic years would have had appeal.
In addition to housing and available spaces in schools, a fast-growing population adds a load to the health-care system and infrastructure. Community well-being is impacted but any sudden change, including with regard to poverty and crime.
Other key areas:
Emergency management in a time of drought, wildfires and other types of extreme weather will see some advancements.
There will be more support for victims of crime, ways to update international credentialling so more people can work in their chosen field, and further advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
Nine weeks in October and November:
That broad range of initiatives through legislation is what will drive government work in the months of October and November at the BC Legislature. The 2023 Fall Session runs from Tuesday October 3 through Thursday November 30, with weeks off around Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day:
- Tues Oct 3 to Thurs Oct 5
- Mon Oct 16 to Thurs Oct 19
- Mon Oct 23 to Thurs Oct 26
- Mon Oct 30 to Wed Nov 1
- Mon Nov 6 to Thurs Nov 9
- Mon Nov 20 to Thurs Nov 23
- Mon Nov 27 to Thurs Nov 30
===== GOVERNMENT LINKS:
Homes for People action plan: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Homes_For_People.pdf
Homes for People technical briefing presentation: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Homes4People.pdf
All announced provincially funded housing projects in BC (map): https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC