Saturday, October 12, 2019

Municipal Policies Rooted in Appropriating Private Property

The appropriation of private property is becoming a favourite tool of local politicians demonstrating to the public their concern about housing affordability, the environment and a variety of other hot issues that they have mostly mismanaged.
For example, Victoria council voted to require 20% of new condo units to be affordable rental. Of course the costs of this subsidy must be absorbed on the mortgages of the 80% new unit purchasers. The costs of production are always paid by the end user.
Saanich council has its own version of appropriation called “Natural Saanich.” It’s a new spin-doctored name for the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) that was rescinded because it was unfair and costly for homeowners and builders. “Natural Saanich” sounds as if new housing is somehow “unnatural.” The subtext is vacant land is good and development is bad.
The bottom line is the Victoria and Saanich initiatives are rooted in govt appropriation of private property to achieve agendas creating unfair, negligible results.
Victoria struggles with affordability because they have the most costly, obstructive development processes, (a tie with Saanich.)
On the other hand, Langford builds 40% of all new homes and 60% of new rentals in the CRD because they have the most efficient development processes.
A recent editorial in the Times Colonist said: “Let’s go all Langford on new development. We know cutting red tape works, after all we have proof just up the highway. But rather than dealing with the obvious problems, council members try to engineer the market to fit their thinking.”
Victoria also has a policy of taking 75% of the lift value in the land from higher density. Higher density on land enables costs to be lowered, but Victoria sees this as an opportunity for more city revenue. Of course they won’t be writing any cheques during the inevitable market downturns. Somehow, they feel they have a right to appropriate private property without taking any of the risk.
View Royal council is considering a similar policy, and is giving themselves a pat on the back for a policy that appropriates only 50% of the lift on private land.
Saanich council prides itself on rural roots, so much so, that it implemented an EDPA that obstructed housing in the zone established for housing called an urban containment area. If housing is prevented in this area, where will it go?
After residents opposed the EDPA, council is promoting a new version called “Natural Saanich.” It is simply another way of obstructing new housing. Saanich already has strong streamside and wildlife protection, tree protection, and similar regulations for the environment. In fact, their strongest protection is that a new development cannot move forward unless approved by council. Yet, passing new regulations on private property, a form of appropriation, seems to be the preference of elected officials.
What is needed now in the interests of housing supply and affordability is protection from politicians using housing as a cash machine and ignoring private property rights – rights that most homeowners spend a lifetime paying for with mortgages.

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