Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

The Islands Trust and Regional District of Nanaimo will receive $127,336 and $345,913, respectively, out of the latest round of housing funding announced by the B.C. government.

The province is delivering $51 million in upfront grant funding to all 188 local governments in B.C. including municipalities, regional districts and the Islands Trust, the Ministry of Housing announced Jan. 17. The funding is meant to assist local governments in meeting new requirements under the housing legislation passed by the NDP government in 2023. Funds can be used to update housing needs reports, zoning bylaws, development cost charge and amenity cost charge bylaws and community plans by hiring consultants and staff and to do research and community engagement “as part of the transition to improve the development approvals process,” according to a press release.

“With new housing actions to build homes in our communities, it is important that we support local governments to improve the processes to get the housing built that people in our community desperately need,” Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing, said in the release. “By providing them with upfront funding, instead of distributing it over time, local governments will be able to support the building of more housing as quickly as possible.”

“We know that people in our region want more housing, and our government has recently taken a number of steps aimed at increasing housing supply across the province,” Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, said via press release. “Local governments play an important role in the process and I want to thank all our local officials who have been strong partners in this work. Funding like this will help them continue to take on the task of creating and supporting more housing across our region.”

At the Jan. 18 Gabriola Local Trust Committee meeting, Trustee Tobi Elliott said the Islands Trust plans to use the monies to update housing needs assessment reports for the local trust areas.

“This is one of the first statutory regulation changes that included the Islands Trust,” Elliott said. “It’s a hopeful note because all our housing needs assessments were due to be done this fiscal; we had budgeted $110,000 to do all of them except Salt Spring. At least we are getting funding to help identify the problem we already know exists.”

“We are required by the province to update those, right that we should get funding to do that,” Trustee Susan Yates noted.

According to the Regional District of Nanaimo’s general manager of development and emergency services, Lisa Grant, staff will be preparing a report to the board of directors that outlines the legislation changes, the impact to the RDN and recommendations for use of funds. When that report will be presented is undetermined as staff are waiting to receive details from the province on eligible costs, among other information.

In a statement, RDN board chair, and Electoral Area B director, Vanessa Craig, said, “I’m pleased that the province has recognized the need to provide additional support to local governments to assist us with implementing new provincial legislation around housing.

“I look forward to receiving additional information about how the funding can support our work, as well as to subsequent board discussions on next steps.”

In 2021, both the Islands Trust and RDN received funding through the application-based Local Government Development Approvals Program (LGDAP) administered by the Union of BC Municipalities to improve their respective development application systems. The B.C. government also announced this month that an additional $10 million would be added to open a second intake of that program.

Local News