In last week’s budget, the BC govt shut down the 1st time homebuyer program, created new taxes and boosted existing taxes on homes.

There was no progress on regional planning to promote housing affordability in the CRD where 13 municipalities create their own plans.

Municipalities with obstructive zoning policies and slow, costly permit approvals continue unabated.

The BC govt continues its practice of charging Property Transfer Taxes up to 3 times on the development of a single home generating more than $2 billion.

Housing affordability is better addressed by the following:

  • Amalgamate municipalities when in the best interests of proper planning;
  • Remove multiple Property Transfer Taxes (PTT) on developing a single home;
  • Establish actionable affordable housing targets for municipalities;
  • Establish efficient and enforceable permit timelines and affordable fees;
  • Use only fact-based, scientific third-party analysis of environmental considerations in urban areas intended for housing;
  • Create enforceable Best Practices for Community Association Land Use Committees;
  • Require new building regs to meet cost/benefit tests, proven practice and education;
  • Establish a single building code improved periodically rather than the costly Step Code’s multiple options for 162 municipalities undermining consumer protection;
  • 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.

It is not credible to ignore these solutions, and instead cut affordability programs and boost taxes, and claim it’s all done to promote housing.

We will achieve affordability only when the govt stops using homes as a cash machine and political football.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist newspaper.

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