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Editorial: Will David Eby lower the boom on the North Shore's councils?

If councils are unwilling to step up to meet housing targets, the province will be willing to step in.
B.C. Premier David Eby announces new actions to tackle the housing crisis at the legislature in Victoria, B.C. Nov. 21, 2022. | Daren Stone / Times Colonist

New legislation announced by Premier David Eby this week will require some municipal councils to set and meet targets for new housing approvals, one of a suite of new policies aimed at the housing crisis.

We don’t know yet whether Eby will lower the boom on the North Shore, but it seems likely, given that our two district municipalities have been so guarded about growth, they are now stagnating.

There are many reasons we find ourselves in a housing crisis: low-interest rates, foreign capital, speculation, federal and provincial disinvestment in non-profit housing, and virtually no new purpose-built rentals being added to the supply for about 40 years. Certainly, among the contributing factors as well is the approval process that new housing must go through, which can take years only to end with four Nay votes at a council. At the municipal level, suburban politicians can enjoy long careers by saying no to change.

But the message from Eby is clear. Our population is growing and the existence of housing for “other” people will no longer be quite so discretionary. If councils are unwilling to step up, the province will be willing to step in. Eby says he hopes it doesn’t come to that. Neither do we, but the human and economic costs of the status quo are simply too high. Our councils should remember, before this legislation comes into effect in 2023, that having more housing options for our workforce means less commuting. It makes it easier for businesses to hire.

It’s also just the right thing to do.

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