Saanich firefighters survey damage to a tent in Regina Park after a fire broke out Sept. 1 in one of B.C.’s largest tent camps of 2018. (Kristyn Anthony/Black Press)

Saanich firefighters survey damage to a tent in Regina Park after a fire broke out Sept. 1 in one of B.C.’s largest tent camps of 2018. (Kristyn Anthony/Black Press)

Housing Minister Selina Robinson touts B.C. government housing programs

Municipal leaders cheer new infrastructure funds

Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson congratulated local politicians Wednesday for their “bold moves” to accept modular housing for homeless people in less than half the time promised by her NDP government.

The NDP election promise of 2,000 modular housing units was delivered in less than half of the two years allowed for it, Robinson told delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler. She congratulated them for standing up to public push-back in the 22 communities that accepted the effort to eliminate “tent cities” popping up in urban areas.

Speaking to reporters after her speech, Robinson said the acceptance of transition housing has improved as communities have seen it is effective, with “wrap-around supports” to help overcome the disorder of people living on the street. She said the program got 200 people off the streets in the Whalley strip in Surrey and other locations with persistent camping.

Robinson got a standing ovation with the announcement of two new federal-provincial infrastructure funds. The $95 million rural and northern communities fund will cover up to 100 per cent of costs for approved projects in communities with fewer than 5,000 people, for things like broadband internet, local transit and Indigenous health and education facilities.

Another $134 million goes toward a community, culture and recreation fund, with approvals to be announced in late 2019. Robinson advised delegates to “go home and get busy” applying for the funds.

She also announced that land has been purchased for a new 50-unit rental housing project for Grand Forks, which was hit hard by flooding last spring. That’s in addition to a 50-unit project for homeless people in the community, with meals and other supports such as employment and skills training.

Robinson received polite applause when reminded delegates that her government moved to get “big money” out of local politics. The NDP government passed legislation to ban corporate and union donations to local politicians and capped individual donations at $1,200, in time for province-wide local elections in October.


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