BC’s decision to establish construction as an essential service has been proven by its success combating COVID-19 while protecting jobs.

Conversely, Quebec shut down construction and Ontario halted new projects and have not achieved BC’s success against the virus.

A recent report by the Royal Bank says British Columbia can also be a leader in the recovery. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Put a hold on all new taxes, fee increases and regulations until BC’s businesses, employment and economy have recovered;
  • Prevent municipal triple-digit increases for Development Cost Charges on new housing. BC’s Best Practices Guide for DCCs recommends fairness, stability and certainty for fees;
  • Establish a Best Practices Guide for rezonings, development applications and building permits;
  • Create a Home Renovation Tax Credit for seismic safety, asbestos abatement and energy efficiency;
  • Start LRT from Victoria to the West Shore. The Mackenzie interchange cost $98 million while LRT construction to the West Shore is estimated at $280 million including engineering;
  • Remove the Speculation, School (Land) Tax & other taxes discouraging development and jobs;
  • Cancel WorkSafeBC’s recent proposal to add viruses including COVID-19 to employers’ premiums.

Housing affordability and skilled jobs are dependent on increasing our supply of homes.

This is achievable if the focus is on creating more efficient development approvals and permit processes.

For example, more meetings and decisions are now commonly accomplished online through programs such as Zoom and Skype.

Also, to keep housing projects moving forward, the BC govt recently allowed online public hearings for rezonings.

We are all in this together, including economic recovery, as we emerge from the pandemic.

Let’s make efficient housing approvals the new normal.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.

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