BC United Leader Kevin Falcon fears that new housing legislation tabled this week will lead to smaller, more expensive housing.
“That’s our fundamental concern,” he said during an unrelated event in Vancouver Thursday (Nov. 2), when he announced that three current Metro Vancouver MLAs — Karin Kirkpatrick, Michael Lee, and Teresa Wat — will run again in 2024.
These comments come after the provincial government tabled legislation that allow developers to start building a minimum of three and up to six units on lots currently zoned for single-family homes and duplexes in municipalities with more than 5,000 people, starting July 1, 2024.
The legislation also legalizes secondary suites and lane-way homes across the province and promises to streamline the zoning process.
The legislation promises to create what government calls small-scale, multi-unit housing in municipalities home to 90 per cent of the provincial population. Government pegs the expected number of new units at 130,000 within a decade.
Falcon said his party will be asking “lots of tough questions” about the legislation, but is already signalling opposition. Increasing density will lead to more traffic, more congestion, more pollution, he said.
Government has also not thought through the costs of higher density, he said. When the number of units on a street goes up to 40 from 10, municipalities will also have to upgrade sewers, water and electricity lines, he said.
“This is extremely expensive,” Falcon said. “The bottom line is what the NDP hasn’t figured out yet, is that because of those costs, the housing is actually going to be very expensive, so it’s not going to be the kind of affordable housing that they think.”
Falcon also accused the provincial government of “overreaching” into municipal jurisdiction.
“I imagine there are probably many mayors that would say, ‘Listen, why wouldn’t you work alongside of us, instead of just pounding us over the head and telling us how we have do it.’”
On Wednesday, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon acknowledged future additional pressures on infrastructure, but noted that increasing the housing supply and upgrading urban infrastructure have to happen at the same time.
That is why government has made infrastructure grants worth $1 billion available to municipalities, he said. He also pointed to additional investments in transit that will help municipalities provide the necessary services as well as $51 million to help municipalities with the administrative changes that will accompany the new legislation.
Kahlon said he expects that municipalities will work cooperatively with the province, as people struggle to find housing every single day.
“We need to move faster and just delaying is simply not an option any more,” he said. “(Wednesday’s) legislation helps us move forward. It creates a standard across the province…we want to ensure that all parts of the province are participating in addressing the housing crisis and this is why this legislation is so important.”