Recently, New Zealand passed a law enabling the construction of up to three homes per lot in single family communities without municipal approval/rezoning.

The BC government introduced legislation enabling municipalities to approve multi-family projects without public hearings, as long as the zoning is already part of the Official Community Plan.

There is a big distinction between the two initiatives. The first does not require the cooperation of municipalities and is intended to quickly boost housing supply.

The second is a placebo for the failed policy of municipal self-determination. It merely allows municipalities the option of bypassing public hearings. For example, municipalities such as Oak Bay may continue choking supply, refusing to accept duplex zoning and secondary suites.

The BC government claims their legislation will expedite development applications, which may be true in some cases. However, Langford has expedited housing for years without the province’s assistance.

The most obstructive municipalities, whose councillors depend on the anti-housing vote, are unlikely to abandon opportunities for their NIMBY supporters to oppose projects.

That said, from a larger perspective, governments appear to be accepting that housing supply is a critical component of housing affordability.

BC first applied multiple new taxes on housing, claiming it would increase affordability, but the reverse happened. Housing prices spiraled upward, and inventory is at record lows, while government posts big revenue increases.

Now the BC government appears to grudgingly accept what the Victoria Residential Builders Association has been saying for years – more housing supply is critical to affordability.

The next question is where to build the density. That requires a regional plan for housing, and transportation systems like LRT and other infrastructure.

The BC government claims to support GHG reduction, yet ignores the obvious need for LRT to the Westshore, while spending millions on widening roads and building interchanges.

It’s time they accept our changing world requires real leadership and an enforceable plan for the entire region.

Not more placebos for anachronistic policies like municipal self-determination perpetuating unaffordable housing, bumper-to-bumper commutes and GHGs.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist. 

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