It’s been more than 20 years since demographer David Foot released his bestseller Boom, Bust & Echo and the message still rings true.
“When you get a big group of people moving through the same stage of their life at the same time, that’s what generates the mega-trends around us,” says Foot.
The present housing demand was predictable and the province could have planned far in advance.
Today’s demand is from a large demographic of millennials starting families, retiring baby boomers, (another large demographic driving Canada’s economy for the past 40 years), plus a recent 55% increase in immigration promoting economic growth.
Add historically low interest rates, and this is a recipe for today’s spiraling housing prices – unless there is sufficient housing supply to accommodate the demand.
However, successive BC governments’ policy of municipal self-determination undermined responsible, regional planning that would have increased density and efficiency, including infrastructure like LRT.
The CRD has 13 municipal councils and Official Community Plans, multiple local area plans, and mostly very slow and costly permit processes choking new housing.
Langford and Colwood are responsible for 55% of the region’s new homes while recent “Housing Needs Reports” required by the province describe obstructive development approval processes in most other municipalities.
The province’s response to low supply and rising prices has been failed attempts to dampen demand with more taxes while generating billions in government revenue, as well as adding costly building regulations such as Step Code.
This just adds to the cost of housing, eliminating young families from the market.
It’s time the province abandoned their policy of municipal self-determination and launched regional planning and transportation in Greater Victoria.
As clearly demonstrated by today’s market, housing affordability should be a priority over municipal autonomy.