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'We can achieve these targets': Vancouver Island mayors address new B.C. housing requirements

The B.C. government has revealed its housing targets for 10 municipalities that have landed on its so-called naughty list. Three of those municipalities are in the B.C. capital region.

“Our aim with these targets is to work with municipalities to improve processes so that we can get projects built quicker,” said B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon.

Victoria, Oak Bay and Saanich are on the province's list.

On Tuesday, they were told how many units of housing they had to approve over the next five years or else face the prospect of the province stepping in.

“We’re being asked to effectively triple our current output, which will challenge our organization,” said Dean Murdock, the mayor of Saanich.

The numbers are ambitious: Saanich is being asked to build 4,610 new units. Victoria is being asked to build 4,902, while Oak Bay needs to build 664.

Saanich has already been doing the groundwork to expedite its approval process but had a much different target in mind.

“This moves us significantly forward from about 300 homes per year up to the 1,200-home range,” said Murdock.

Densification is already being targeted throughout Saanich’s major corridors and the mayor is hopeful it can reach the new goal.

“I’m confident with the pre-work already underway, and with some support from the province to increase some capacity, that we can achieve these targets,” said Murdock.

The province says it will provide local governments with resources to speed up the approval processes, including streamlining provincial permitting across multiple ministries to develop a new digital permitting process.

Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto said she is confident that the city's new target will be met within the five-year period.

The mayor of Oak Bay is also hopeful.

“Right now, I’m looking at this very optimistically, that this really is an opportunity for us to work together,” said Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch.

Oak Bay is known for its slow approval processes.

The mayor has many concerns including high-interest rates, the soaring costs of building materials and real estate prices.

With those factors in play, the goal of 664 new units may be hard to reach, the mayor says.

“One of the things that we’re asking for from the province is to have two measures of success – the number of units built but also are we creating the framework that allows the private industry to build,” said Murdoch.

The three municipalities say they are up for the challenge to reach those targets but it will be up to the private sector to build those units. Top Stories

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