BC Government Takes Positive Step to Increase Housing Supply, But Incentives Needed to Encourage Action
With demand significantly outweighing supply in many regions across BC, the cost of housing has risen dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) has maintained that increasing market housing supply is a key to making homeownership more affordable for British Columbians, which is why the provincial government's recent announcement introducing proposed legislative amendments aimed at speeding up municipal development approvals is a welcomed, positive step.
"We have seen throughout the pandemic that housing for British Columbians is at a premium, both in terms of options and cost," says BCREA Chief Executive Officer Darlene Hyde. "The most obvious and impactful measure that can be taken to address this is increasing supply. So, we are encouraged to see that the government is making this a priority."
The changes announced by the government include the removal of requirements for local governments to hold public hearings for development proposals that already align with Official Community Plans (OCPs) and equip municipal staff to make decisions for minor development variance permits.
BCREA has long been advocating for measures to speed up development approvals and we are pleased to see them being put into practice. Our recent pre-budget submission to the government's standing committee on finance specifically called for changes to the public hearing process. What remains, however, is the adoption of additional measures outlined in the Development Approvals Process Review (DAPR) final report, which the provincial government published in September 2019, but have yet to implement.
"Increasing housing supply is not a simple solution. It requires a coordinated and aligned effort from all orders of government and adequate incentives for municipalities to take action," adds Hyde. "What is not addressed here are the undercurrents of hesitancy around development that exist within certain municipalities."
BCREA recommends governments at both the provincial and federal levels work collaboratively to make infrastructure investments to local governments conditional on targets in OCPs. This is a recommendation that is echoed both in the DAPR final report and by the Canada-British Columbia Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability in its final report. The province should also provide local governments with best practices for writing, adopting and amending OCPs, and municipalities should prioritize the creation of missing middle housing through the gentle densification of single-family residential neighbourhoods.
For more information, contact:
BCREA Vice President, Government Relations
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