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Developers and advocates weigh in on B.C.'s housing targets

B.C. cities aren’t in the business of building homes; that’s what private developers do. And those private developers are preparing to get to work.

“Make no mistake, this will not be easy,” said Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s housing minister on Tuesday at a press conference in Saanich.

Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay now know how many homes need to be built within their borders over the next five years. Collectively, they’re supposed to build more than 10,000.

“We encourage all communities to take action today to speed up local processes and get more homes built for people faster,” said Kahlon.

“The province is just going for it, which is fantastic,” said Luke Mari, owner of Aryze Developments in Victoria.

Aryze has been focusing on building multi-family housing in the region for a number of years. If these targets are going to be met, it’s developers like him that will be building those units.

“Things are very challenging right now, there is no secret there,” said Mari.

High interest rates, the cost of building materials and a labour shortage are all factors working against development at the moment.

“You can only focus on what you can control, and the municipalities can control the process of getting things shovel-ready,” said Mari.

When projects get delayed by months or even years, that costs developers money. Those costs get passed along to the purchaser of those units.

Mari says if the red tape gets cut, that would compensate for the added costs we are currently experiencing.

“Saanich, Oak Bay and Victoria need about four times as much over the next five years as the NDP targets,” said Robert Berry, a volunteer with Homes For Living.

Berry is quoting a recent finding by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation stating that if we continue on our current building pace, B.C. will be 610,000 units of housing short by 2030.

“That’s to bring housing affordability back to about a 2004 level,” said Berry.

He believes the numbers aren’t ambitious enough and those municipalities are getting off easy.

Berry has a prediction on which municipalities will reach their five-year targets set forth by the province.

“I think Saanich and Victoria are going to make it quite easily,” said Berry.

As for Oak Bay, “The province is going to have to take back land-use powers from the Oak Bay council,” said Berry.

Which is exactly what the province says it will do to any municipality that doesn’t reach its housing target.

“Just the fact that the province is coming to the table and saying these are our mandates is a huge step that we haven’t seen before,” said Mari.

The province is getting high grades from developers and housing advocates alike in its attempt to see more homes built faster. Now it’s up to municipalities to welcome that development into their communities. Top Stories

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