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B.C. to improve social housing, while reducing pollution

Victoria is committing $1.1 billion over the next 10 years to make B.C.’s social housing stock more energy efficient, less polluting and safer, while significantly reducing heating costs for residents.

In making the announcement, Premier John Horgan said the major focus of the retrofit initiative will be to increase the use of cleaner electricity in the province’s 51,000 units of publicly funded and owned social housing. As a result, some buildings may reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 per cent, he said.

“As part of tackling climate change here in B.C., we need to change how we heat our homes,” Horgan said. “By retrofitting the homes of tens of thousands of British Columbians, we’ll reduce air pollution at the same time we’re reducing people’s heating bills.”

The $1.1-billion retrofit initiative is part of the B.C. government’s 30-point housing plan, released in the last provincial budget. Within this, the energy-efficiency component is budgeted at $400 million and is part of government’s upcoming strategy to meet B.C.’s legislated climate goals. It will include upgrades that improve building efficiency and reduce energy use – like boiler and electrical upgrades, replacing doors and windows, building-envelope repair, electrical upgrades and more.

“This investment is a great example of how reducing emissions improves quality of life and affordability for British Columbians,” said Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and leader of the B.C. Green caucus, who joined Premier Horgan in making the announcement. “Making our buildings more energy efficient will also provide opportunities for the trades and construction industry to develop their expertise in low-carbon solutions. Creating these kinds of opportunities will help drive local innovation that will benefit the entire provincial economy.”

In addition to the efficiencies created, the broader retrofit initiative will deliver significant seismic and fire-safety upgrades, making homes safer and more comfortable for residents. It will also create approximately 7,700 direct and indirect B.C. jobs.

“B.C.’s social housing is a critical piece of solving the housing crisis we’re seeing in all parts of the province,” Premier Horgan said. “In addition to building more housing, we must take better care of the homes we have already. This is an investment in the families and seniors who live in social housing. It’s an investment in their safety, comfort and ability to afford the homes they want.”

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