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Eight more Island communities to get provincial housing targets

Most of the 20 new communities targeted by the B.C. government are in Metro Vancouver and southern Vancouver Island.
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks about new legislation for short-term and long-term rental housing during a press conference in the rotunda at the legislature in Victoria, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins is unfazed by being included in the next round of the provincial government’s housing targets. 

The British Columbia government has named another 20 cities and towns — including eight on Vancouver Island — as priority communities for housing targets over the next five years. 

“Esquimalt is punching above our size when it comes to housing approval,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins. “We look forward to seeing what the province brings to the table.” 

Esquimalt is among 20 cities and towns identified Tuesday as priority communities for housing targets over the next five years. Most are in Metro Vancouver and southern Vancouver Island, although Kelowna, West Kelowna and Prince George are also on the list. 

The government says in a statement the communities are in high-growth, high-need regions of B.C. 

The island municipalities include Central Saanich, Colwood, Esquimalt, Nanaimo, North Cowichan, North Saanich, Sidney and View Royal. 

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said the goal is to complement work those cities are already doing while they implement recent provincial legislative changes to build more homes. 

Esquimalt is undergoing something of a building boom and last year saw 766 new homes started. That ranked it behind only Langford at 1,406 and Victoria at 964 new homes started in a record building year when the region saw 4,992 new homes start coming out of the ground. 

The township currently has 1,138 homes under construction, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation figures. 

Ryan Windsor, Mayor of Central Saanich, noted his municipality is also pulling its weight. 

“We’ve seen a good deal of new housing built over the past few years here in Central Saanich, we’ve been named by B.C. Business as No. 1 on their list of most economically resilient cities,” he said. 

“We’ve done all this while working to protect the Agricultural Land Reserve, which is no less than 60 per cent of the total land base of the municipality and something I’d expect this government would want to keep protecting.” 

Windsor also noted the community has been working with the province to add housing and ensuring infrastructure is modernized. 

Central Saanich saw 300 new homes started last year, and currently has 315 new homes under construction. 

The government says it will monitor the progress of the 20 communities and set out targets this summer for housing growth. 

The other municipalities identified to receive housing targets are Chilliwack, Kelowna, the City of Langley, Maple Ridge, Mission, New Westminster, the City of North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Prince George and Surrey.

The 20 communities identified Tuesday are in addition to 10 named last year, including Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay.