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An Opportunity For UBCM Delegates

The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Annual Conference and Trade Show is Sept 26 – 30 in Victoria.

Local elected officials from across BC meet to pass resolutions and discuss issues with provincial representatives.

Saanich is proposing two resolutions important to housing affordability.

The first is Home Renovation Tax Credits which promotes energy efficiency, health and safety, skilled jobs and battles the underground economy.

Renovations can significantly reduce air changes in BC’s older housing stock from 10 – 20 per hour to as low as 3.5, the most affordable way to increase energy efficiency and reduce GHG’s.

Renovation tax credits also assist with abatement of asbestos found in older homes including stucco, floor tiles and Zonolite insulation estimated to be in 242,000 Canadian houses.

The second resolution is Review of Downloaded Building Codes calling for a review of annual code regulations on small entry-level homes.

Regulatory costs are an important issue in BC where the average home price is $100,000 more than Canada’s next most expensive province.

New homes are already safe, healthy, and energy efficient but rarely affordable. Affordability is critical for young people struggling to secure good-paying jobs and start families.

Goals like health and energy efficiency are best addressed by improving older housing stock through tax credits, offered federally in the past, more recently in Quebec, and even at the municipal level.

BC’s local officials have a unique opportunity to champion affordability, energy efficiency, and skilled jobs in their communities by supporting Saanich’s resolutions.

The resolutions are:

B46 Home Renovation Tax Credits Saanich

Whereas the Quebec government has recently announced a new tax credit to encourage home renovations, and the Official Community Plan of Saanich and of municipalities across British Columbia and Canada recognize the importance of home renovations, housing variety, affordability and adaptability in their communities’ quality of life, health, sustainability and economy;

And whereas housing renovations are recognized to help seniors stay at home, help the special needs of a family member or convert a house to an intergenerational home, and create skilled employment for young people, and the use of refundable tax credits for renovations is known to boost energy efficiency, local economies and reduce off-permit renovations:

Therefore be it resolved that UBCM urge the governments of the Province of British Columbia and Canada to create new tax credit programs for consumers to help encourage home renovations that focus on energy efficiency, improved mobility and aging in place projects, that are over $1,000.

Endorsed by the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

UBCM Resolutions Committee recommendation: Endorse

UBCM Resolutions Committee comments: The Resolutions Committee notes that in 2015 the sponsor brought forward a similar resolution, 2015-B119, calling on the provincial and federal governments to establish tax credit programs for general home renovations. Due to time constraints, the resolution was referred automatically to the UBCM Executive. After study by the UBCM Community Economic Development Committee, the UBCM Executive endorsed the resolution with an amendment to specify that home renovation tax credit programs should include criteria for minimum project cost, and should focus on projects intended to improve energy efficiency, mobility and access, or the ability to age in place. The amendment reflects previous policy. 

B63 Review of “Down-loaded” Building Codes Saanich

Whereas after much debate about the accuracy and effectiveness of the code revision process, under recent changes to the BC Building Code, national building regulations now apply to smaller two-storey homes under 2,000 square feet, while previously these regulations applied only to larger buildings;

And whereas the Victoria Residential Builders Association has expressed concern to local governments that applying additional new regulations to two-storey homes under 2,000 square feet will drive construction costs upwards, thereby triggering extinction of affordable housing for the average BC family;

And whereas the affordability of new housing, particularly work-force housing such as smaller two- storey homes under 2,000 square feet, is a key component to local government economic vibrancy and sustainability:

Therefore be it resolved that UBCM urge the Governments of British Columbia and Canada to engage a qualified, independent third party to undertake a cost-benefit review of the impacts on affordability, as well as on safety and energy efficiency, of applying future new national building regulations to two- storey homes under 2,000 square feet.

 Endorsed by the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

UBCM Resolutions Committee recommendation: Endorse

UBCM Resolutions Committee comments:

The Resolutions Committee notes that the UBCM membership considered but did not endorse a similar resolution from the

same sponsor, 2015-B121, which requested the provincial and federal governments to “undertake a review, by independent third parties, of the appropriateness of provisions of the National Building Code on two- storey homes under 2,000 square feet, and the imposition of this on housing affordability.”

 In its comments on the 2015 resolution, the Resolutions Committee expressed concern that the proposal to relax code requirements for a particular type of building did not address the potential impacts on health, safety and energy efficiency of the buildings. The Committee observed that the request seemed contrary to past member direction, which has been to pursue greater stringency in building regulation.The Committee would acknowledge that the sponsor has responded to concerns regarding resolution 2015-B121, and that the 2016 resolution proposes a review of the impact of building code amendments on a range of factors including affordability, safety and energy efficiency. 

See also resolutions B45 and B135.

More resolutions at http://www.ubcm.ca/assets/Resolutions~and~Policy/Resolutions/2016_UBCM_Resolutions.pdf

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