This week local and provincial politicians are gathering in Whistler for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities schmooze-fest where issues dear to the hearts of local government are discussed.
Housing is a hot topic. And with municipal elections looming, it couldn’t be more timely. One of the frustrations of local politicians, however, has been the limited extent to which any kind of action is under municipal control. Another frustration is the lack of good information available to help guide policy.
On Monday, UBCM prodded the province to move more urgently down the path to making real estate ownership data more transparent. That’s a good first step.
West Vancouver is also asking for support on its request to create additional tax classes, which would allow local government to tax non-residents at a higher rate. It is a change that is long overdue.
While it would be wrong to lay the housing crisis at the feet of foreign boogeymen, in a community like West Van, foreign capital is a real factor. You don’t have to scratch deeply to find stories of streets where the lights are permanently out.
Then there’s the proliferation of Airbnb listings, many of which used to provide permanent rentals for locals, and the reluctance of anyone in charge to deal with the issue. That’s another session up for discussion at UBCM.
But talk is cheap. What local governments need from the province on many housing issues is action. It’s what happens after the resolution books have hit the recycling bin that we’ll be waiting for with bated breath.
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