BC’s new housing minister says he plans to quickly increase housing supply in the province
British Columbia’s new housing minister, Ravi Kahlon, has said he intends to get going to get more homes built in the province.
Prime Minister David Eby gave Kahlon the portfolio during his ministerial announcementone of the most watched in Eby’s tenure.
Eby has made housing announcements one of the central elements of his leadership so far, the introduction of new laws removing what the province sees as discriminatory age and tenancy restrictions across strata, as well as attempting to set local housing targets at the municipal level.
Kahlon says his top three goals are “speed, supply and synergy,” as BC reports showed. is the most inaccessible province when it comes to housing.
“Supply means both market housing and off-market housing, and we need to do that very quickly,” he told CBC News in an interview.
Kahlon promised to release more details about his tenure, which includes a rollover tax, soon.
“We will be updating our housing strategy early in the new year and those details will be released.”
In Kahlon Mandate LetterEby writes about implementing a “BC Builds” program to build housing for middle-income families, creating a rental housing acquisition fund, and legalize secondary housing province-wide.
“In two years, we’re not going to solve the housing crisis,” Kahlon said.
“Our goal is to make a massive shift in the space, to bring as much housing online as possible.”
Will Airbnbs be regulated?
The mandate letter also mentions the introduction of legislation to allow local communities to “better regulate” short-term rental services like Airbnb, which have been blamed for worsening housing crisis.
The minister did not say what the bill would look like, but that he looked forward to working on it in the new year.
Kahlon also confirmed that he is looking at an important NDP policy promise that has yet to be delivered: $400 tenant discount promised in the 2017 elections.
“The Prime Minister has asked us to…determine how we can structure this reimbursement [so] that it doesn’t really hurt us on the inflation side,” he said. “It’s definitely still on the table.
“We’re also looking at ways to not only increase the rental supply, but also to make sure we maintain the rental supply that we have.”
Minister must collaborate: expert
Andy Yan, city program director at Simon Fraser University, said the new housing ministry would likely require a lot of collaboration with municipalities and other ministries, especially when it comes to building new housing.
“The second biggest expense for a Canadian household is transportation,” Yan told CBC News.
“If you put this new supply in areas where individuals … will need cars, I think that doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.
“You can indeed provide a level of housing affordability, but now you’ve introduced a challenge and a vulnerability when it comes to transportation costs.”
He said Kahlon is entering a situation where off-market housing itself is very scarce, which the “BC Builds” program seeks to change.
“I think it is essential to be transparent, accountable and efficient [with B.C. Builds] in terms of open data and what it builds,” Yan said.
“It’s really, I think, important that it doesn’t just become a raw unit count.”
The new minister will also need to work with the federal government to develop a comprehensive Indigenous housing strategy, he added, and consider preservation and protection – particularly with regard to the risk of displacement when building housing for people earning less than $70,000.
The light at new immigration goalsthat will drive BC’s future growth, new housing must also be culturally appropriate and consider the perspective of multi-generational homes and habits, Yan said.
“It’s an important thing to understand – the change face of British Columbia.”