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Editorial: B.C. assessments show our need for a seismic shift in housing plans

The strategy is to flood the market with housing options, rather than stifle it with regulations
Workers on a platform attach a piece of construction material to a new building at the Apex at Seylynn Village development in June, 2023. | Nick Laba / North Shore News files

Property assessments on the North Shore are, for the most part, holding steady this year, with averages for single-family and strata homes fluctuating by no more than two per cent.

No doubt, higher interest rates are cooling the buying power of house hunters. But, at $2 million for a single-family home in North Vancouver, and $3 million in West Van, “steady” assessments mean little for affordability in a region that desperately needs it.

The province has an omnibus of new housing policies coming into effect in 2024 intended to bring about generational change. Among them: a crackdown on short-term rentals, a ban on public hearings for development proposals that comply with official community plans, expansion of the speculation and vacancy tax, an end to single-family zoning with fourplexes allowed on any lot by right, automatic allowance of secondary suites, minimum tower heights of 10 storeys near transit exchanges and 20 storeys near SkyTrain, plus fresh housing targets for municipalities to see through to completion.

The province estimates the changes could produce 293,000 new homes over the next decade. The strategy is to flood the market with housing options, rather than stifle it with regulations. Polices like these may make a significant impact on the availability and price of housing, but it will take years before we really know.

Deciding the pace, size, location and form of new development has been one of the main responsibilities that municipalities have had in Canada. Our councils now need to spend less time worrying about whether to accommodate a growing population and more time planning for how.

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