Saturday, September 7, 2019

Misguided Policy Undermines Housing Supply

CMHC reports a severe lack of housing supply in Greater Victoria resulting in rising prices.

VRBA attributes the lack of supply to:
  • BC govt’s policy of municipal self-determination obstructing proper regional planning for housing, transportation and sewage;
  • CRD’s Regional Growth Strategy discouraging development;
  • Provincial/municipal policies such as the EDPA obstructing development in urban containment zones intended for housing;
  • Rising municipal fees and amenities charged to new housing;
  • Lack of enforceable Best Practices for Community Association Land Use Committees;
  • Municipal-driven building regs offering little benefit while boosting the cost of construction.
CMHC CEO Evan Siddall says slow and obstructive municipal processes contribute to a lack of supply.

“Municipal leaders talk of a housing crisis and their primary solution is to demand $12.6 billion in urgent funding from the federal government,” says Siddall. “The weak and lagging supply response in Vancouver — rezoning restrictions, density limits, development fees, and the time it takes for approval of new supply — and not just for affordable housing — needs urgent attention. If there’s a crisis, we should ALL act like it.”

Those are the facts experienced by builders and other qualified voices in the housing industry. Greater Vancouver is a region of 17 municipalities with the City of Vancouver operating under its own charter with its own building code.

BC’s misguided policy of self-determination for municipalities is an anomaly in Canada and a costly failed experiment in governance.

This failed experiment has been continued by decades of different BC govts including those of John Horgan, Christy Clark, Gordon Campbell and Glen Clark. The result is a leadership void in the CRD contributing to some of the highest average house prices in Canada and a lack of important infrastructure including transportation and sewage treatment.

Our region of 383,000 residents elects 13 mayors and an army of councilors, overseeing 13 planning depts.

This seems to defy logic if our goal is good planning, consistent regulations, and attracting govt funding for infrastructure.

Good regional planning identifies areas suitable for high density housing as well as protecting environmentally sensitive areas.

A strong regional model also encourages more consistent building code interpretations and development processes.

All of this requires investment in transportation, water and sewage systems.

Municipalities must have sufficient populations to attract the necessary federal and provincial funding.

For example, Portland, Oregon started building their Light Rail Transit in 1982 with a population similar to ours today.

Calgary started LRT in 1980 and was possible because Calgary has a ward system – a form of amalgamation, which helped secure funding.

Small communities still exist, but as part of a single municipal council, where councilors work together on issues impacting the region.

Voters must demand elected officials and future provincial govts do the right thing and unify the CRD for responsible planning as is common practice in provinces across Canada.

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