Friday, May 17, 2024

BC government introduces two new measures to address housing crisis


On Monday, the province announced a bill that, if passed, will help bring more homes into BC and support renters.

On November 21st, David Eby’s government announced a new bill as part of StrongerBC, which has the province’s economic plan to bring jobs, homes and health care to British Columbians.

During the press conference, Premier David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing Murray Rankin, Mayor Marianne Alto and a health-care worker named Omama Shoib speak about what can be done and what BC wants to do going forward regarding the housing crisis.

They talked about the steps that have been taken since 2017 to reign in the out-of-control housing costs and lack of affordable homes, why BC needs action on housing, they introduce the Housing Supply Act and they announce amendments to the Strata Property Act

In 2017, housing affordability was at an all time low so the government responded with ‘Homes for BC,’ a 30-point housing plan. 

In 2019, BC brought in a vacancy tax and capped rent increases to inflation in order to bring stability to the housing market. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, BC saw record amounts of migration and demand for housing increased at an unprecedented rate.

“We had more than 100,000 people move to BC last year and our housing supply is not keeping up,” said Premier David Eby.

Now, with high interest rates and variable mortgages increasing, BC has recognized that more action is needed. 

Homes for BC

From 2011 to 2021, housing projects that are under construction have more than doubled and rental construction has increased by more than 800% in BC. 

Homes for BC was an initiative passed in 2017 and it has helped bring homes and vacancies to the ever-growing population of BC, but now the government believes the time has come for further action. 

Current housing challenges

According to the government, growing demand is outpacing supply in the province. 

Since the pandemic, the growth rate of BC’s population has grown at an astronomical rate and competition for rental units and home buyers has increased alongside the population.

The province announced today they believe that approval processes for new-builds and homes that are to be redeveloped are outdated. 

“Many people in BC have a vision of a province where when you’re ready to move out of your parents house and start your life, that you can start a family, that you can move from renting to potentially owning your own place; moving up the property ladder,” said Eby. 

“It’s a vision that feels out of reach for far too many  British Columbians because of the pressure in our housing market right now.”

BC’s new ‘Housing Supply Act’

The proposed initiative will help to increase the supply of housing in the municipalities that need it the most. Cities with the highest projected population growth rate will get priority and they will set realistic housing targets. 

Local governments already create ‘Housing Needs Reports’ every five years. The new initiative will make the Ministry responsible for Housing review these reports and determine if a housing target is needed for that municipality.

According to BC, the framework for this new act is based upon successful housing targets made by cities in California and the UK. 

“This Housing Supply Act will give our city and other municipalities another critically important tool to create homes for our current and future residents,” said Mayor Alto. 

“The City of Victoria has already taken a number of very important steps to simplify building processes and to accelerate building of affordable housing, but we can’t do enough of it, fast enough alone.”

“We need the province to support and push all local governments to make building more, and more affordable homes in every neighbourhood of every municipality across BC.”

Initially, eight to 10 municipalities will be targeted and made priorities. 

Work to determine which municipalities will be high on the priority list has already begun and is based on Housing Needs Reports, community plans and census data. 

The province will help the municipalities in the most need of new housing meet their targets by aiding them in speeding up their local approval processes and improving provincial approval processes. 

If a target is not being met upon review, the newly proposed ‘Housing Supply Act’ will allow for an advisor to step in and review the municipalities efforts in meeting the targets, then the Minister Responsible for Housing can issue a directive to that local government to take action.

Help for renters

Strata homes include condominiums, duplexes and any other shared property housing unit. 

BC has determined that the ‘Strata Property Act’ will also need amendments to allow for more people to have access to homes. 

The act has restrictions that are reducing people’s housing choices in the province, so the province is going to remove some of these to aid people finding suitable homes. 

Some condos or other strata homes have age restrictions that do not allow non-seniors access to certain buildings. 

With the removal of these age-based restrictions, more townhouses and rental options will become available to those who need them. 

Housing Supply Act timeline

If the act is passed, it will come into effect in mid-2023. 

Work is already underway by the Ministry Responsible for Housing to determine which municipalities will be a priority. This is based on Housing Needs Reports and census data.

The province will begin work with eight to ten municipalities. Those cities will not be informed until the act comes into effect.

To aid renters, the Strata Property Act amendments will come into effect immediately. 

Curtis Blandy

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