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March 5, 2021, 9:06 am

New Fund Helps local Governments Deliver on Housing Priorities

Ministry of Municipal Affairs
VICTORIA - A new program supporting local governments to improve their development approvals process builds on the Province’s commitment to help people and communities get the homes they need built faster. 

“The ongoing pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for local governments and has heightened the need to further increase the supply of new, affordable homes for people in their communities,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “Housing providers, the development sector and local governments all have a role to play in improving current development approvals, and this Development Approvals Program complements what local governments are already doing to get people the right housing for their communities quickly and efficiently.”

The $15-million Local Government Development Approvals Program is part of the Province’s ongoing work to give local governments the tools necessary to meet housing needs in their communities. It helps local governments look at best practices and innovative ways to support non-profit housing organizations, developers and other stakeholders to deliver essential and diverse types of housing to people around the province.

Examples of projects that will qualify for funding include:
 
  • upgrades to a digital or online development application process to make it easier for applicants to apply;
  • developing a pre-application workshop or seminar to help developers better understand the application requirements and speed up the process; and
  • conducting internal reviews of current development approvals processes to identify opportunities for improvement.

Municipalities, regional districts and the Islands Trust will be eligible for up to $500,000 for projects that improve their development approvals process. Applications for projects that exceed that amount may be considered if applicants can demonstrate rationale and if funding is available.

The Union of British Columbia Municipalities is administering the program on behalf of the Province and will accept applications until May 7, 2021. Approvals are expected 90 days after the intake closes.

“UBCM members have long supported improving the development approval process in B.C.,” said Brian Frenkel, UBCM president. “This new program will provide assistance to local governments seeking to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their processes. UBCM also looks forward to working with the ministry as it develops additional initiatives captured under the 2019 Development Approvals Process Review Report.”

Local governments are encouraged to submit applications through the UBCM website: https://www.ubcm.ca/EN/main/funding/lgps.html.

The Local Government Development Approvals Program is equally funded by the Province and the Government of Canada, and is part of the Safe Restart Agreement.


Quotes:

Anne McMullin, president and CEO, Urban Development Institute –
“We are very pleased that the government is moving forward with this innovative funding program to improve local government approval processes. Changing and speeding up our planning processes will provide more affordable homes and more housing choice for British Columbians.”

Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-profit Housing Association –
“Combined with other measures to speed up the delivery of affordable housing, this new funding will provide local governments and partners with valuable new tools to help streamline development approvals in communities throughout B.C. It demonstrates that government has been listening to the concerns of non-profit developers.”

Carmina Tupe, director, policy and government relations, Canadian Homebuilder’s Association of British Columbia –
"This new funding program is an important step toward addressing housing supply and affordability in British Columbia. Our members are under increasing pressure to meet the housing demands that the pandemic has only emphasized, and we need to find ways to bring housing choice online faster. With labour capacities on sites reduced, construction costs like lumber rising quickly and approvals becoming more challenging to obtain under reasonable timelines, this course of action from the government is welcome news. We look forward to seeing the implementation of this program and discussing other potential solutions that will speed up development processes.”

Learn More:

For more information about the Development Approvals Process Review consultation process, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/local-governments/planning-land-use/dapr_2019_report.pdf

Learn more about B.C.’s economic recovery plan:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/bc-restart-plan

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: 
https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html

Government of Canada’s action on COVID-19:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/canadas-reponse/government-canada-takes-action-covid-19.html


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