CMHC report: “Housing starts in Metro Victoria appear to be moving at two speeds with single-detached and apartment units diverging. Overall, the total starts are trending downward from a peak in late 2017. However, apartment starts were 77% above the March 2017 year-to-date figures, while single detached starts were down 32%. Inventory in single-detached units has shown signs of accumulation, but remains below average.” The report is here.

Our view: As the cost of land rises, and the CRD lacks a responsible and enforceable regional plan, single family homes will be eroded. In 2000 single family homes represented 75% of Toronto’s new housing. By 2017, multi-family was 82% of housing due to increasing regulations and costs on development including limited land supply.

The BC govt’s policy of municipal self-determination is a failed governance model creating 13 community plans in a region of 360,000 people. This lack of regional planning is significantly responsible for rising housing costs and poor infrastructure like transportation and sewage treatment projects. Available land is choked between the ALR and anti-development groups opposing small lot subdivisions in core municipalities.

Solutions are not rocket-science, but do require political will. They include:

  • Enable the minister to amalgamate municipalities when in the best interests of proper regional planning, transportation and infrastructure;
  • Establish actionable affordable housing targets for all communities;
  • Establish efficient development permit timelines and affordable fees reviewed periodically;
  • Use only fact-based, scientific third-party analysis of environmental considerations in urban containment areas;
  • Create enforceable Best Practices for Community Association Land Use Committees;
  • Require new building regulations to meet cost/benefit tests, proven practice and education standards before approval;
  • Establish a single building code, enforced by the province, and improved periodically rather than the Step Code’s multiple options for 160 municipalities risking unintended consequences and undermining consumer protection;
  • Remove multiple Property Transfer Tax (PTT) charges on the development of a single home;
  • Invest some of the $2 billion PTT taken from housing and create a reno tax credit for energy efficiency retrofits, asbestos mitigation and seismic upgrades in a region where a very large earthquake is a certainty.

These are just a few common-sense suggestions.

What is lacking in BC is the political will for responsible regional planning, efficient development processes, and an affordable building code based on proven practice. But apparently there is no shortage of will to continue treating housing as a cash machine.