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Greater Victoria municipalities on the province's radar for more housing

Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria have found themselves on a provincial list that aims to correct British Columbia’s ongoing housing crisis.

“Simply put, housing supply cannot keep up with the demand,” said Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon.

The province’s goal is to cut municipal red tape. “Our aim is to make it easier for municipalities to approve projects quickly,” said Kahlon.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the province,” said Dean Murdock, the mayor of Saanich.

Murdock welcomes his municipality making the province’s list and says council and city staff are already working to streamline the approval process for more housing.

“Saanich is a large municipality that has a role to play in creating more homes for more people,” said Murdock.

Saanich, along with nine other municipalities in the province will now take the summer to work with ministry staff to set housing goals within their communities.

The province says it will then support municipalities in reaching those goals. What that support will look like is still unknown.

“I think for us, this is just a reinforcement of the direction that we’ve been going in for some time and that we want to continue,” said Marianne Alto, the mayor of Victoria.

Alto lobbied to be included on the province’s list as the capital city has done a lot of work recently to add much needed housing to the region.

“We’re certainly making progress,” said Mike Kozakowski, the founder of citified.ca, a real estate and housing blog.

Kozakowski has crunched the numbers and says there are currently around 5,000 units of purpose-built rentals under construction in the Capital Region.

Some municipalities are punching well above their weight in terms of building units.

Per capita, View Royal is leading the charge. Esquimalt is in second place with Langford coming in third.

“There are four municipalities with zero purpose-built rental housing currently under construction,” said Kozakowski.

Those being North Saanich, Metchosin, Highlands and Oak Bay--which just found itself on the province’s list.

“We have been very deliberate in terms of trying to move forward on housing projects,” said Barb Desjardins, the mayor of Esquimalt.

Esquimalt has recently approved 1,700 units of purpose-built rental housing within its borders, as well as condominiums and townhouse projects.

“So that across the spectrum there is the ability for people to fit in the market somehow,” said Desjardins.

For those who made the list, changes must be made, or the province says it will step in and compel the region to cut red tape and approve units of housing.

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