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Economic downturn means money savings for B.C. Housing

December 5th, 2008 · 4 Comments

I’ve heard some people fretting that the province may be stalling on construction of all its fancy new social housing projects, specifically the 12 fast-tracked ones in Vancouver.

But, au contraire, it seems as though they’re just working out a better deal.

As the construction industry crashes in B.C., it’s not all bleak news, it turns out. Or at least for us, the taxpayers.

B.C. Housing may actually benefit, as it moves into the building phase for much-anticipated 12 sites in Vancouver. The first projects are in the bidding phase and it is anticipated that,  by holding off on some others until the new year, the agency will be able to get the best prices as suddenly-short-on-work companies are now bidding competitively against each other to get jobs.

That’s all quite a difference from just a few months ago, when companies could barely get contractors and sub-trades to put in a bid.

Now, bidding is brisk and it’s tenderer’s market.

Craig Crawford, the development services vp at BC Housing, doesn’t have info on what the final savings might be, obviously, but the general direction is good for us taxpayers.

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  • Anon

    Anyone not paying taxes on land this year whose
    properties might be seized, and the land held for
    multiple housing dwellings?

    I can see some of the West Siders finally giving
    up their 50 and 60 foot lots.

  • Hi Frances, we keep hearing that funding for the 12 sites is coming from the sale and re-development of Little Mountain Social Housing on Main and 33rd into a massive condo project. But you are saying there are projects in the bidding phase. Maybe this is a good sign for those of us who believe LM should be 100% affordable and the money for the 12 sites should come from the treasury.

  • david chudnovsky

    Frances,

    Unfortunately, your piece on the 12 Vancouver housing sites reads too much like BC Liberal propaganda.

    Why do you persist in calling them “fast-tracked” projects? They were announced a year and a half ago amid much fanfare. Minister Rich Coleman said at the time they would be finished for the Olympics. The press dutifully reported that bit of fantasy.

    Shortly thereafter rumors surfaced that only five of the projects would be done by 2010. Then Coleman began to talk about two of the projects that were going to be fast-tracked and finished by 2010 and, finally, last spring he promised two would have “ground broken” by September 2008. So far, nothing.

    Now BC Housing tells us we’re going to save money because of the economic crisis — as a result of not having built what was promised when it was promised. And the press dutifully and approvingly reports it once more.

    What’s happened in the intervening years? Homelessness has increased dramatically and affordable housing continues to disappear.

    Today 200 units of social housing stand empty at Little Mountain as a result of Coleman’s botched plan to sell off 15 acres of public land to a developer who now appears incapable of financing the project. Instead of taking care of the housing needs of the province Coleman decided to be a real estate speculator with land that belongs to all of us — and now he’s caught.

    The spokesperson you quote from BC Housing says all of this is good for us taxpayers. Wrong. What’s good for taxpayers is to house the homeless and provide for them the supports they need to be successful. Every study shows that’s cheaper than continuing to do what we’re doing.

    The homelessness crisis is real. Most British Columbians want to see it resolved. That means each of us has a responsibility to look critically at the governments plans, propaganda and spin.

  • fbula

    Wendy,

    Hmm, well, I have sort of answer for you, though I don’t think it will make you happy. There are tenders going out now and in the new year. That’s because Rich (Minister Coleman) told me that he can get money from the treasury as a kind of advance, as long as the process for redeveloping Little Mountain is going ahead.

    That’s the same kind of thing that David Podmore told me when it comes to paying for the BC Place roof. Pavco now has the okay to develop office and residential in buildings around BC Place in order to generate money to pay for the roof. But obviously, no one is rushing to develop anything in this market. But he has to start fixing the roof now in time for the Olympics. So Pavco will get a mortgage to pay for the roof costs, which will be paid off when the land around BC Place gets developed.

    So a similar process with Little Mountain, I am guessing. As long as there’s a firm commitment to redeveloping there, BC Housing can get a loan from the provincial government to pay for the construction of the 12 sites.

    Again, with the market the way it is, no one is going to wait for those two sites (LM and BC Place) to actually start construction and sell units in order to pay for anything, as that would mean having to delay the roof reconstruction and the social-housing sites for years.