On February 13, after much teasing, the Province of British Columbia finally unveiled the BC Builds program, one of the biggest initiatives the Province had said it would be launching to address the housing crisis and one of the biggest outstanding items from the housing platform Premier David Eby campaigned on in 2022.

What is BC Builds?

The goal of BC Builds is to create more housing that is affordable to middle-income renters, who are increasingly facing the same housing affordability issues that lower-income earners are. The Province says it understands that the private sector is facing challenges when it comes to building these kind of projects, so it is stepping in to address the need for this kind of housing, which the Province recognizes as the kind of housing that people such as teachers, nurses, and construction workers need.

How does BC Builds work?

BC Builds can be viewed as having three major components.

First, BC Builds will act as a so-called "land bank," by working with other government bodies, not-for-profits, First Nations, faith-based groups, and even private owners to identify land they own that is currently being underutilized.

Secondly, the program will then make that land available for development, whether it be to not-for-profits, First Nations, or even private sector developers. The housing that is being delivered must be provided at rental rates that cost no more than 30% of household income — the traditional definition of affordability — for middle-income earners and cannot exceed market rental rates in their respective communities.

Lastly, to get those projects to the construction stage faster — a big culprit in Canada's housing crisis — the Province will then provide low-cost construction financing, while also stepping in to expedite approvals when needed.

How much money is the BC Builds program distributing?

BC Builds launched with the Province committing $2B in low-cost construction financing. A week later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Government of Canada would be matching that funding and providing an additional $2B in financing.

At launch, the Province of British Columbia said it will also be committing $950M to BC Builds in the form of grants to not-for-profits and First Nations, in order to ensure the affordability of the projects. Those projects will be required to provide 20% of units at rental rates that are at least 20% below market.

In late-February, the Province then announced a further commitment of $198M to BC Builds as part of Budget 2024.

How many projects will BC Builds fund?

At launch, the Province says it had identified 20 sites across British Columbia with more likely to be identified and or added later. It has also said that BC Builds will be expanded to include a homeownership program in the future. Currently, through the first five years of the program, the Province says that it projects BC Builds to deliver between 8,000 and 10,000 units.

For more background on BC Builds and how the development process will work, read our one-on-one interview with Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon about the program.

Below is a map and full list with all of the announced BC Builds projects, both of which will be updated as announcements are made.

1. 225 2nd Street East, North Vancouver

  • Announced: February 13, 2024
  • Land Owner: City of North Vancouver
  • Developer: Catalyst Community Development (not-for-profit)
  • Amount of Units: 180
  • Project Details: 18-storey. Mass timber.
  • Announced: February 13, 2024
  • Land Owner: City of Duncan
  • Developer: Khowutzun Development Corporation (First Nation)
  • Amount of Units: 199
  • Project Details: 4 to 6-storey. Woodframe. New governance HQ for Cowichan Tribes.
  • Announced: February 13, 2024
  • Land Owner: Town of Gibsons
  • Developer: New Commons Development (not-for-profit)
  • Amount of Units: 33
  • Project Details: 4-storey. Woodframe. Operated by Sunshine Coast Affordable Housing Society.
  • Announced: February 20, 2024
  • Land Owner: City of Vancouver
  • Developer: New Commons Development (not-for-profit)
  • Amount of Units: 112 (co-op)
  • Project Details: 9-storey. Concrete. Passive house. Development application submitted in March 2022.

Total Amount of Units: 524