B.C.’s government buys land for transit-oriented housing development

British Columbia's government is leading a public development project on Vancouver Island to increase the availability of affordable housing near transit access.

British Columbia’s government is spearheading a new public development project on Vancouver Island oriented toward transit access. B.C. Premier David Eby speaks during an announcement in a greenhouse at Westcoast Vegetables in Delta, B.C., on Monday, March 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

British Columbia’s government is spearheading a new public development project on Vancouver Island aimed at bringing more affordable homes closer to transit access.

Premier David Eby says the province has purchased two parcels of land for the Uptown development in Saanich, B.C., through the $394-million property acquisition fund operated by the Transportation Ministry.

Eby says the plan is to build “hundreds” of new homes, retail and commercial capacity, on the site, along with possible amenities such as child care, public spaces and a transit hub.

The development plan was announced after the province finalized the acquisition of two properties recently for a combined cost of $9.3 million, with the planning still in its early stages.

Eby says government got involved in the real estate development because of a “paradox” where people who use transit in B.C. are often priced out of homes close to those options.

He says the province will retain ownership of the land, while housing developed at the sites would be done as leaseholds or rentals, although the exact mix of housing has yet to be decided.

“One of the pieces that we’ve really seen … is that the property values that immediately are adjacent to transit development go up in value,” Eby says. “And when that land value goes up, the housing that’s ultimately built on that site also ends up being more expensive.

“With government actually buying the land near transit hubs like this … we can shape development in a way that supports people who actually use transit actually being able to live close to the transit that they depend on.”

No timeline for the development’s construction or completion has been released.

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