2022 Advocacy Year-in-Review

Jan 10, 2023

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Posted by
Mark Sakai
Advocacy Project Manager

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With 2022 now in the rear-view mirror, BCREA’s Government Relations department reflects on a busy and eventful year.

2022 was filled with regulatory change and shifts in the provincial political landscape impacting the real estate sector. Public and media interest around housing affordability intensified greatly across the year, often portrayed as escalating crises. As a result, governments have felt pressured to act quickly – at times rashly, announcing policies with varying degrees of advanced research and sector collaboration.

Amidst this backdrop, the BCREA Government Relations department has adopted an increasingly research-oriented approach, adding original data and policy research to media and governmental discourse. Our goal has been and continues into 2023 to go beyond asserting opinion, but rather providing evidence-based sectoral thought leadership. Here’s a recap of our activities from the past year.

A Better Way Home

In response to the provincial government’s announcement of a Home Buyer Rescission Period, BCREA released a research-focused white paper titled “A Better Way Home.”

After months of rigorous research and analysis, the report provided 33 recommendations to improve consumer protection and transparency in the real estate transaction process. The report was released in 2022, along with a press conference and a comprehensive communications, public and media engagement plan. The campaign was well-received and extensively covered by national and regional media outlets. Many of the proposals were echoed in the BC Financial Services Authority’s (BCFSA) report “Enhancing Consumer Protection in BC’s Real Estate Market.”

Despite the aligned recommendations of BCREA and the BCFSA, the provincial government moved forward with legislative change announcing that the Home Buyer Rescission Period would take effect in January 2023. Throughout this process, BCREA worked closely with the regulator and other stakeholders to ensure that REALTORS® have the resources to understand and comply with the changes. We continue to monitor this process closely and maintain an ongoing dialogue with the regulator around real and potential issues tied to this legislation.

Provincial Government Leadership

In June 2022, Premier John Horgan announced that he would be stepping down as soon as the BC NDP elected a new leader. After the disqualification of an “outsider” leadership candidate, David Eby was sworn in as premier on November 18. During his campaign, Eby focused much attention on BC’s housing crisis, and echoed many of BCREA’s concerns about a chronic housing undersupply and protracted approval process for new housing projects.

Upon taking office, Premier Eby announced the creation of a stand-alone Ministry of Housing and appointed Ravi Kahlon as its first Minister. Other new and major cabinet portfolios went to Minister of Finance Katrine Conroy, Attorney General Niki Sharma and Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang. Ministers remaining in their portfolios include Minister of Health and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs Adrian Dix, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, and Minister of Transportation and Public Infrastructure Rob Fleming.

Having worked with Eby closely in recent years, we are optimistic about his approach in the coming year. As a policy forward, hands-on leader, we expect a closer relationship with the Premier’s office and better collaboration around potential policies in the months ahead. This is a much-needed change from the prior administration.

On the issue of housing affordability, we have spent the last few years countering the narrative that BC affordability issues are closely related to foreign ownership. The metrics simply do not support this assertion, given that foreign ownership has fallen to less than 0.5 per cent in the last two years. Our focus has been on demonstrating that a supply drought is the main causal indicator – and we have had strong success in convincing the Minister of Housing (now Premier) David Eby to adopt this position.

Under this lens, our focus increasingly turned to influencing change at the municipal level. A primary challenge point of increasing supply is inefficiencies at the municipal level. To this end, we have been and will continue into 2023 focusing efforts on change at this level of government. Streamlining approval processes, better structures to deal with the “NIMBY” attitude at the community level, and more aligned provincial leadership leveraging provincial and federal funding as being tied to regional development have been particular areas of focus.

Local Government Shake-up

In October 2022, British Columbians went to the polls to elect their local government representatives. A new wave of mayors and councillors brought significant change to many municipalities in the province.

In Victoria, the retirement of Lisa Helps brought wholesale change to council, as Marianne Alto captured the mayoralty, and a virtually entirely new council will helm the city for the next four years.

In Vancouver, Ken Sim rolled over incumbent mayor Kennedy Stewart with a resounding landslide victory, and four new councillors will join the six who were re-elected.

Wholesale change was also the theme in Surrey, with incumbent Doug McCallum and his running mates all but erased from council.

New mayors also won elections in Kelowna, Kamloops, Port Moody, Langley Township, Prince George, and Abbotsford (among others).

Union of BC Municipalities

In September 2022, BCREA attended the annual convention of the Union of BC Municipalities in Whistler. This year, for the first time, BCREA invited its member boards to participate. Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has been a long-time attendee on its own, and delegates from Fraser Valley, Interior, Northern and Vancouver Island all participated, making for a strong presence at the convention. BCREA created materials to hand out to delegates and hosted several important meetings on-site with various mayors and provincial officials.

Federal Foreign Buyers Ban

In much the same manner as the provincial Home Buyer Rescission Period, the federal government quickly announced and passed the Foreign Buyers Ban legislation with insufficient research or consultation.   

Ottawa’s decision to release the accompanying regulations a mere ten days prior to implementation left REALTORS® across Canada scrambling to understand and comply with the new regulations. Many sectoral thought leaders (including BCREA) have drawn attention to the “political, rather than practical” nature of this policy, which is not expected to have any meaningful impact on its intended purpose to make housing more affordable for average Canadians.

What’s Coming in 2023

BCREA’s Government Relations department anticipates another intensive year amidst governmental pressure tied to issues of national housing affordability. Both the federal and provincial governments are paying particular attention to housing policy issues and are often skirting the necessary research and analysis to draft comprehensive legislation that will achieve stated goals. We will be continuing and expanding detailed, research-based advocacy on behalf of all BC REALTORS®.

We are committed to representing the voice of BC REALTORS® in advocating for the common goals of improving housing, implementing a regulatory system that works for REALTORS® and their clients, and ensuring that policies are based on evidence and adequate consultation.

To get in touch with us, please contact us at [email protected].

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