Fiscal update promising, but money won’t come soon enough: B.C. housing minister

B.C.’s Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon is pleased with how the federal government is allocating funds towards affordable housing in its fall economic statement, but says he worries the money won’t come soon enough.

Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland presented her fiscal update Tuesday, with a large focus on housing. Some of the housing-related measures included setting aside $15 billion for low-cost loans and $1 billion for affordable housing, and expanding a recently announced measure to remove GST charges off rental developments to include co-op housing.

Following Freeland’s announcement, Kahlon told the media he thinks this kind of spending will have an impact in B.C. and across Canada, but he’s concerned about it not being released until 2025 or later.

“I’m a little concerned that the money is out to 2025 and 2026. People are struggling for housing right now and we need those dollars right now,” he said.

While Kahlon says he doesn’t yet know how the money will be allocated across the country, he hopes the money coming to B.C. can go directly into communities.

“They’re using infrastructure dollars in other provinces to try and get local governments to change zoning laws to allow more housing to be built. We’ve done that in British Columbia,” he said. “So we if we get infrastructure dollars flowing to communities, that’s a positive because it means more housing for us in our communities.”

Kahlon adds once the $1 billion is spread across the different provinces, he’s worried it won’t stretch as far as it seems. That’s why he’s excited to hopefully partner with the federal government on its low-cost loans strategy, because he says “we want to see those dollars coming to B.C.”

In the coming days, Kahlon says he’s interested to learn more details about the fall financial statement so the province can get to work with whatever new funding is available as soon as possible.

“We know that we need this housing for people in British Columbia,” he said. “We’ve taken strong action here in British Columbia. We’re hoping that the changes (the federal government) is making help us further our efforts to get that housing.”

-With files from Liza Yuzda

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