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Video: Q&A with Ravi Kahlon, BC housing minister
An event hosted by Abundant Housing Vancouver
Abundant Housing Vancouver held an event Tuesday evening with Ravi Kahlon, BC housing minister.
I hadn’t seen Kahlon speak before. I was quite impressed. He understands both the political side and the economic side of housing.
Reasons for people to support more housing, even if they already have a home:
Every single time I talk to people, there’s always two frames. The first frame is people saying to me, how am I going to be able to raise my kids, not in the neighbourhood I grew up in, but in any neighbourhood in British Columbia?
And there’s another category, and that’s people who have homes, who say, where are my kids going to live, and how do I ensure my grandkids can live close to me?
… People are really at a place where public understanding is much more alive to the need for housing.
I have people in my community who say to me, “We’re a working-class community, I don’t want my community to change, I don’t want my neighbourhood to change.” And I always tell them the same thing. “The community is changing. The building structures might not be changing, but who can afford to live in them is changing.”
Economic viability of rental projects: he talked about the economic viability of rental projects being threatened by rising interest rates, and improving them via lower development charges, more height and FSR (“Vitamin D”), and shorter approval times.
He's an excellent communicator, which is important when he's talking to local governments and to housing skeptics. Peter asked him difficult questions, with no softballs.
I thought it was useful to have him talk to a pro-housing crowd, so he's not just talking to people fearful of change.
I’d also like to see him in front of a hostile or skeptical crowd, but my impression at this point is that he can sell the policy and that he believes in it.
Things I didn't know before:
The target homebuilding rate for the province - 35-40,000 per year, up from 24,000. (I hope that rate continues to increase over time.)
A list of eight to ten municipalities requiring “higher engagement” will be identified this spring.
Kahlon sounds very open to upzoning within walking distance of rapid transit stations. (What I’d like to see: six storeys by right within 800 m of a rapid transit station, similar to what New Zealand did.)
There’s still lots of questions, of course. Is the city of Vancouver going to be on the higher-engagement list? What will upzoning near transit look like? What additional measures will the province consider enforcing in higher-engagement municipalities?
Options for intervening in higher-engagement municipalities - what New Zealand has done, and what the Ontario housing task force has proposed
Enforceable housing targets for municipalities (November 2022)
The MacPhail Report (October 2021)
Will the provincial government step in? (November 2021)