British Columbians have identified housing affordability as the biggest challenge in a province where prices are now more than $200,000 over the national average.
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.
With municipal elections coming in October 2018, we look forward to the start of positive change.