BC’s housing affordability challenges can be traced to the Local Govt Act. 

The Act supports municipal self-determination creating broad powers in building regulation, planning and land use.

This policy even limits the province’s ability to amalgamate small communities to support effective regional planning and policing.

It undermines initiatives like sewage treatment, LRT, and is at least partly responsible for choking housing supply.

Municipalities are able to ignore larger regional interests, which explains why only 3 of 13 CRD municipalities account for 77% of our housing starts.

Restricting housing supply results in higher prices and taxes, since municipal services and infrastructure must be financed despite little population growth.

The Local Govt Act does say:

Community plans “must include housing policies of the local government respecting affordable housing, rental housing and special needs housing.”

But it does not specify what those policies must be or how they plan to achieve the goals.

The Act is much more specific regarding energy efficiency:

Community plans “must include targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the area covered by the plan, and policies and actions of the local government proposed with respect to achieving those targets.”

Why aren’t actionable targets required to promote housing affordability in Canada’s most expensive province?

BC’s climate initiatives like Step Code significantly raise housing costs, and do little to reduce GHGs in older homes, the main source.

Affordability is the #1 priority for British Columbians, yet it’s not a priority in our legislation.

BC’s existing regulatory system is clearly a cause of high prices, not the solution.

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This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.