Nanaimo will be asked to meet provincial housing targets, and that won’t come as a surprise to the city, which is well aware of its housing needs.
B.C. Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon was in Nanaimo on Tuesday, July 4, to meet with Mayor Leonard Krog and local MLAs to discuss housing.
Earlier this year, the B.C. government announced the first 10 communities that will be given specific housing supply targets to meet. Nanaimo wasn’t on that list, but Kahlon said it will be added in the future, and said that was one of the topics of discussion at today’s meeting. He pointed out that the province has 17 communities with populations of 80,000-plus, and all 17 will be asked “to play a bigger role” in accommodating British Columbia’s population growth. The list of municipalities being asked to meet provincial housing targets is not a “naughty list,” but rather “proper, good, healthy planning,” the minister said.
“Nanaimo will be one of those communities, but this is a positive step,” Kahlon said. “This is about us as a province and local government saying OK, here’s where our needs are as a population, here’s how our population will increase and here’s how we can plan for that growth.”
Nanaimo city councillors received a housing needs report last month that projected the city’s population will reach 140,000 people by 2046, and that the city will require an average of 1,155 new housing units every year from now through 2031.
Krog said over the next 10 years, it’s estimated that the city will need 46 per cent of new homes to be subsidized or affordable housing, and he suggested that government resources may be better spent building housing.
“In a place like Nanaimo, where you are definitely going to see continuous growth over time, capital [spending] may make more sense than simply subsidizing people to pay rent for housing that’s provided by the private sector,” he said.
Kahlon praised B.C. municipalities for being proactive with housing needs reports, but pointed out that the reports are being done a little bit differently in each community.
“We’ll be doing some work later in this year working with our partners to make sure that all of our targets that we’re setting are aligned across the province so that we can compare apples to apples,” he said.
The minister said provincial housing policies can help ensure different types of housing is being built in communities. Nanaimo’s housing needs report noted that the city issued building permits for 1,367 housing units in 2022, on track to meet the number of units needed, “however, the city will need to facilitate the correct mix of unit types to address diverse needs, such as affordability and suitability.”
Kahlon said this morning’s meeting included “fantastic” conversation about next steps, with discussion about supportive and rapid housing, and government supports that overlap with housing. Krog said there were “concrete proposals” that he believes will lead to announcements at a later date.
“The record numbers of people we have coming to British Columbia, we welcome them, we want them, but we want to ensure that we have the supports, the housing to make sure that communities here are successful, as well as those people that are coming, that they can be successful as well,” Kahlon said.Follow @nanaimobulletin