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Here's how B.C.'s new premier plans to tackle the affordable housing crisis


British Columbia Premier David Eby has announced new measures aimed at increasing the supply of new homes and lifting rental restrictions on strata units as the province grapples with an affordable housing crisis.

Eby, who was B.C.'s housing minister before becoming premier, says that if passed, his government's new Housing Supply Act will identify municipalities with the greatest need for more homes and will set new housing targets for those communities.

The province says it has already identified eight to 10 communities where the new housing targets would be implemented based on census data, community plans and projected population growth.

The premier says the province will work with municipal governments to set the housing benchmarks but ultimately it will be up to the municipalities to decide how to achieve them.

Under the new legislation, if those community housing benchmarks are not met, the province could issue directives and orders in council to compel communities to comply with the law as a last resort.

"I want to assure municipal leaders that I hold the province to the same standard," Eby told reporters at the B.C. legislature Monday. "We need to do better on permits, we need to provide support to cities, and we will do so."

If passed, the Housing Supply Act would take effect in mid-2023, and the eight to 10 municipalities subjected to the housing targets would be notified after the law is enacted, the province says.


The premier, standing alongside Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto, also proposed amendments to the province's Strata Property Act that would ban most rental restrictions and age restrictions in strata buildings.

The province says age-based restrictions, like those in adult-only strata buildings, make it difficult for families to find housing, and force people to move if they have children.

The proposed amendments would remove most age limits for strata buildings but would still allow seniors-only stratas to restrict occupancy to people aged 55 and older.

"Seniors need housing in our province and that rule makes sense to British Columbians," Eby said.

The proposed amendments would also ban blanket restrictions that prevent strata owners from renting out their units.

The province says 1.5 million people currently live in strata-run buildings in B.C. with 300,000 units subject to rental restrictions.

"It is simply unacceptable that a British Columbian who is searching Craigslist for a place to rent can't find a home and somebody who owns a condo is not permitted to rent that home to that individual," the premier said.

"It is equally unacceptable that a young couple that lives in a condo and decides to start a family has to start searching for a new home because that strata has a rule that everybody who lives in the unit has to be 19 years of age or older."

Under the amendments, stratas would still be allowed to enact rules banning short-term rentals through services like Airbnb.

The province is also seeking to amend the Strata Property Act to allow stratas to conduct meetings virtually on a permanent basis going forward. Virtual meetings have been permitted during the COVID-19 pandemic, a temporary rule that is set to expire on Dec. 31.

If passed, the amendments to the Strata Property Act would take effect immediately.

Omama Shoib, a health-care worker who recently moved from Alberta to Victoria, called the proposed changes "a step in the right direction," saying she almost declined her new job as a harm-reduction nurse in downtown Victoria when she couldn't find a place to rent.

"It was a full-time job trying to find an option for myself," Shoib said. "And it's a job that I couldn't do because I was packing up my life in Alberta."

Murray Rankin, B.C.'s attorney general and minister responsible for housing, said Monday that B.C. has more renters per capita than anywhere else in Canada.

"With the population growth that we're seeing in British Columbia, the demand for housing has never been higher," Eby added.

"British Columbians should see this announcement as a continuation of our work on housing and they will see us accelerating our work on housing going forward."  

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog says that if his city is one of those picked for provincial intervention, he will want to see the province providing positive incentives to build housing, rather than taking a punitive approach with provincial orders.

"We're the ones who have to take it in the neck, so to speak, from the upset neighbours," Krog said.

"The premier is not going to have a lot of people criticizing provincial legislation when he comes to the grocery store in Nanaimo because he’s not in the grocery store, I am." Top Stories

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