Justin Trudeau announces $2B for BC Builds housing program

The federal government has announced $2 billion for a new B.C. program that aims to fast-track rental property developments across the province. Monika Gul has the details.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced up to $2 billion in additional financing to help build thousands of middle-class homes in Vancouver and across B.C.

Trudeau says addressing the housing crisis is critical.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in Vancouver
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in Vancouver on Tuesday February 20, 2024. (CityNews Image)

“B.C. actually was the canary in the coal mine for the problems we’re seeing across the country around housing affordability,” he said Tuesday.

“Home prices here started going up decades ago and people around the country started to notice. But a lot of them, and governments in particular, ignored those warnings. Inaction by successive governments of all orders, investors buying up homes meant for middle-class families, and old-school zoning laws didn’t let communities grow in ways that kept up with Canada have brought us to a tough spot here in B.C. and right across the country.”

The prime minister says the crisis “is a complex problem,” one that won’t be solved by words alone. He says “thoughtful solutions” are needed and commended B.C.’s recent housing program announcement.

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Trudeau called BC Builds “an ambitious and fundamentally practical new housing program.” Announced last week, the program brings together non-profits, local governments, public agencies, First Nations, and community groups to identify underused land across the province, to create and build more homes for means-tested middle-income renters.

The $2 billion funding announced Tuesday comes from the federal government’s apartment construction loan program, and is on top of the more than $2 billion announced last week by the B.C. government.

The money, Trudeau says, “will support, at a minimum, 8,000 to 10,000 new homes over the next few years, with more to come as even more land is secured.”

Tuesday’s announcement was made at the latest BC Builds site, which is planned to be a new co-op in Yaletown.

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim speaks in Vancouver
Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim speaks in Vancouver on Tuesday February 20, 2024. (CityNews Image)

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim says addressing the housing crisis is a team effort.

“The reality is Vancouver, the region, the province, and the country is in a housing crisis, and all levels of government need to work together more than ever before, if we are going to make a material impact on this challenge,” Sim said.

“We are finding that more and more people, the people that work in the city of Vancouver, are living farther and farther away. And for Vancouver to succeed, our people — including but not limited to school teachers and trades people and … first responders — need to be able to live in our city.”

Last year, the B.C. government passed several pieces of housing legislation, some aimed at restricting short-term rentals and others around building more affordable spaces near public transit.

Housing is expected to once again be a major focus in the B.C. legislature this spring, with the throne speech set to be delivered Tuesday.

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