Interesting news stories about housing surfaced last week.

First, CMHC’s latest study says Victoria house prices are moving closer to levels supported by market fundamentals such as population, personal disposable income and interest rates.

They also report that young adults are a key driver of increasing household formation.

We have said for some time that the large millennial demographic is a significant driver of demand.

Housing costs have spiraled upwards due to lack of supply from municipalities with zoning challenges, inefficient permit processes and triple digit increases to municipal fees such as recent DCC’s in Saanich.

There is little change in available housing inventory, however a significant increase is necessary to address affordability.

In California, they are promoting more supply by passing legislation requiring cities to allow small multi-family projects in single family neighbourhoods, as well as higher density projects near transit.

They recognize housing affordability takes precedence over local zoning where municipal councils may be swayed by small, vocal community groups.

Sound familiar? Our region of 13 municipalities faces similar challenges.

Unfortunately the provincial govt’s policy of municipal self-determination prevents regional zoning for affordability.

This is also why we lack LRT, which was started in Portland with a population similar to Victoria today.

The final news item again comes from California, where a building owner in L.A. can recover up to 50% of the cost of a seismic retrofit thanks to the city’s Seismic Retrofit Program.

We have long advocated a seismic reno tax credit or rebate. A major earthquake in our region is a matter of when, not if.

Solutions to make housing safer and more affordable are being implemented in other communities.

We hope our elected officials are paying attention.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist. 

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