Limited housing supply has been identified by economists and industry as the main source of high housing prices.

This is a fundamental principle of economics. Low supply/high demand increases prices, while high supply/low demand reduces prices.

Limited housing supply and high prices in our region are directly linked to a lack of available land.

For example, Toronto established a greenbelt around the city to prevent urban sprawl and protect farmland. BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) achieves similar goals.

Studies in Australia and by the CD Howe Institute reveal these land restrictions add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of housing.

These policies clearly limit supply and boost housing costs unless balanced by development-friendly policies within Urban Containment Boundaries (UCBs) intended for housing.

However, there is a contingent of elected officials and anti-development groups obstructing housing in the very zones intended for housing in their Official Community Plans.

A recent example is opposition by anti-development voices in North Saanich where the mayor and council are conducting a review of their Official Community Plan to consider increased density. These reviews are necessary due to Housing Needs Reports required by the BC govt every five years.

The North Saanich report says “there is increasing need for options like apartments and townhouses, for seniors looking to downsize out of large single-detached homes while staying on the Peninsula, first-time buyers looking for more affordable options to enter the market, and workers looking for more affordable options close to their employment.”

Housing is already caught in a squeeze between greenbelts and anti-development voices and zoning restrictions in UCB’s.

Ironically, this only places more pressure on greenbelts and the ALR since Canada’s population is growing significantly and people need to live somewhere.

Often these same elected officials and anti-development groups express concern over the lack of affordable housing, which they are responsible for obstructing.

To accommodate our growing population and achieve more affordable housing supply, municipalities must become more development-friendly within UCB’s intended for housing.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist newspaper.

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