B.C. building stronger communities with $1-billion Growing Communities Fund

February 10, 2023 at 9:22 am  BC, News, Politics

One billion dollars in new grants will be going to local governments in B.C. to help build community infrastructure and amenities to meet the demands of unprecedented population growth.

“B.C.’s strong economy and natural beauty continue to attract people from across Canada and around the world. Cities and towns need support to build thriving, livable communities,” said Premier David Eby. “The new Growing Communities Fund will help local municipalities improve roads, build more arenas and water facilities, and improve recreation options for families.”

The Growing Communities Fund will provide a one-time total of $1 billion in grants to all 188 of B.C.’s municipalities and regional districts, which they can use to address their community’s unique infrastructure and amenities demands – such as recreation facilities, parks and water-treatment plants, as well as other community infrastructure. It will help communities prepare for future growth and build the amenities needed to support new home construction, especially with the Housing Supply Act where targets are set.

“Addressing B.C.’s housing crisis requires a variety of responses, including increasing the supply of available housing which, in many communities in B.C., requires investments in community infrastructure and amenities,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “Today’s announcement demonstrates a cross-government co-operation to address the unique aspects of the housing crisis in each community, ensuring they can thrive into the future.”

These grants will complement existing infrastructure funding (such as sewer, water and recreation facilities) and will be distributed to B.C.’s 188 municipalities and regional districts by the end of March 2023. The Growing Communities Fund will come from the surplus shown in the Second Quarter Financial Report. The Province is putting this year’s surplus to work for people, to support them now and for the long term.

“I thank the Province for this investment into much-needed community infrastructure,” said Brenda Locke, mayor of Surrey. “As we know, Surrey is the fastest-growing city in the province. With that growth, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to work together to create livable communities and create a variety of housing options. This investment will ensure the quality of life in Surrey is not only maintained, but improved. From recreation facilities to parks to roads, this investment will benefit the residents of Surrey both now and well into the future.”

The Province has heard from local governments about the need for infrastructure and amenities to support their growth. Infrastructure funding programs are routinely significantly oversubscribed. For example, there are six times more requests for funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program Community, Culture and Recreation stream than what is available. This one-time fund supports the priorities of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).

“Today’s announcement provides the largest single provincial investment in communities in our province’s history,” said Jen Ford, president, UBCM. “This unprecedented transfer will help meet the needs of growing populations through the expansion of facilities and replacement of aging infrastructure. It will also support climate adaptation to sustain service delivery and safeguard residents from the risks of extreme weather. By delivering the funds with maximum flexibility, the Province is ensuring that they will be directed to urgent local priorities. This shows tremendous commitment from the province and is welcome news for residents in all communities.”

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