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Deputy PM Freeland brings promise of ‘housing, housing, housing’ to B.C.

Freeland, who is also finance minister, met with Premier David Eby Monday in Victoria
Premier David Eby met with Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday afternoon prior to next month’s federal budget. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday said “housing, housing, housing” will dominate the upcoming federal budget prior to an afternoon meeting with B.C. Premier David Eby.

But she didn’t offer any specific details.

“I think that (housing) is the centre of the concerns of so many Canadians,” she said. “I think we really need to work hard as country to get more homes built faster,” she added.

Freeland made these comments after touring Hudson House, a housing complex in Victoria that she touted as an example of how the federal government is helping to fund affordable housing projects. Hudson House is part of the larger Hudson District with more than 950 homes across six buildings.

Freeland’s visit to Victoria comes as the federal government prepares to table its federal budget on Tuesday, April 16.

Relations between Ottawa and Victoria have not been without frictions during the past 16 months. B.C. has been pushing Ottawa for financial and legislative support on several issues, from housing to transportation to climate change to criminal reform.

While not all of B.C.’s requests have been successful, both governments have found agreement on a range of health care files, environmental protection, and economic projects like the $1 billion battery plant recently announced in Maple Ridge.

Recent months have seen a run of housing-related announcements by federal officials in British Columbia, including a $2-billion-loan from Ottawa for BC Builds, the recently announced provincial program to create rental housing for middle-income households.

BC Builds sees the provincial work with non-profits, local governments, public agencies, First Nations and community groups to identify underused land. From there, funding and financing will support the construction of housing.

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Freeland said she admired many of the measures, which B.C. has taken to create more housing.

“So I look forward to working with the premier on what more we can do here in B.C.,” she said. “It gives me some ideas that we can apply to other parts of the country.”

But Freeland also used the occasion to highlight federal programs like the Housing Accelerator Fund.

“These agreements (with municipalities) will help cut red tape and increase Canada’s housing supply,” she said. “The Housing Accelerator Fund deals that we have done with B.C. municipalities alone will lead to the construction nearly 120,000 new homes here in B.C.,” she said. “That’s moving the dial significantly.”

Deals on Vancouver Island will fast track more 900 new homes over the next three years and more than 16,000 over the next decade, she added.

Freeland also pointed to Ottawa’s financial support for the provincial health care system and childcare.

“So I really believe the federal government is there to support the people of Canada, whether it’s health care, whether it’s families (with childcare), whether it is housing…and the people of B.C. and I look forward to talking about all that with Premier this afternoon.”

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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