According to the Union of BC Municipalities, “Since the beginning of the pandemic, local governments have taken steps to manage costs and rethink budgets, but communities are contending with significant revenue shortfalls.”

Yet many municipalities continue to add regulations, costs and unnecessary processes to new housing, a proven source of significant revenue. This revenue ranges from project fees to annual property taxes.

David Langlois, President of the Victoria Real Estate Board says, “If you are concerned about housing prices and availability of housing in general in our community, please support development in your municipality.”

Pent-up demand for housing was inevitable due to low interest rates, a large demographic of millennials starting families, and downsizing boomers.

Also, the federal govt increased annual immigration 55% over the past few years, important for a growing and prosperous economy.

To address revenue shortfalls, municipalities should take advantage of housing demand, expedite approvals and boost supply.

Instead, developers and builders are facing more bureaucracy and costs, with a few exceptions such as Langford, the home of 61% of all new housing in January.

The obstructions in most other municipalities are clearly outlined in their Housing Needs Reports.

The lack of leadership is admitted in the Premier’s recent mandate letter saying:

“With support from the Attorney General and Minister responsible for Housing, work to bring down the cost of housing for people by streamlining and modernizing development permitting and approvals.”

In other words, override BC’s policy of municipal self-determination which has failed to provide development approval efficiency.

Now is the time the BC govt and municipalities step up to the housing challenges of the modern world.

This will help to get affordability, jobs and even municipal finances back on track.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.

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