Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Provincial and local government housing policy aligned for the most part

The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) is the association that represents all local governments in our province. One of the major roles of the organization is to advocate on behalf of local governments to the provincial government.

Wesbrook Village. Select image to enlarge.

At the beginning of February, the UBCM Housing Committee released a report called, “A Home for Everyone.” This report outlined four key strategies to ensure housing is available for all British Columbians:

  1. A Rental Housing Strategy
  2. A Demand Management Strategy
  3. A Comprehensive Homelessness Strategy
  4. An All Government Approach Towards Housing Affordability

The UBCM also called on the provincial government to build 114,000 new affordable housing units over ten years.

As part of the recent budget, the province released “Homes for B.C.: A 30-Point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia.” The UBCM Housing Committee reviewed this document. They presented to the Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Housing Committee this month, noting where the provincial plan aligns with the UBCM recommendations and were there is room for improvement.

For the most part, the provincial plan aligns with the UBCM report as follows:

A Rental Housing Strategy

  • Commitment to create 114,000 units of affordable housing
  • Retention and renewal of existing affordable housing
  • Creation of a new rental-only zone

Demand Management

  • Revisit Foreign Buyer’s tax rate and geographic scope of application
  • Requirements for declaration of beneficial ownership
  • Making the property transfer tax more progressive
  • Address tax fairness as it pertains to short-term rentals

When it comes to demand management, there were two items which were not covered in the province’s housing plan: taxation to address rapid speculative resales, and an investigation of options for regulating short-term rentals.


UBCM’s recommendations were focused on prevention and integrated case management. The provincial plan includes funding for housing only. It is expected that further action on a holistic approach will be forthcoming with the provincial poverty reduction plan.

An All Government Approach Towards Housing Affordability

  • Collaboration between orders of government, recognizing local governments’ role in defining community need and priorities

It is encouraging to see that provincial policies and local government housing priorities are, for the most part, aligned. The real test will be if the provincial government continues to follow through with its plan over the next decade to ensure that there is housing available for all people who live in our province.

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