Another month, another report on our housing unaffordability crisis. But the one released by the Union of B.C. Municipalities, we feel, deserves our governments’ attention.
The report lists a swath of recommendations that could – if senior governments follow through – curtail speculation, increase rental supply and help get homeless people off the streets.
West Vancouver Coun. Nora Gambioli is adding her own item to the wish list – tweaks to the tax code that would allow municipalities to distinguish between multimillion-dollar mansions and run-down old apartments. Both get taxed at the same rate today. We absolutely support her initiative. Municipalities have the unenviable position of being on the front line of housing issues but they hold none of the legislative power or tax revenue to really impact housing affordability on their own. They need senior levels of government on board.
As the unaffordability crisis blossomed under their watch, the B.C. Liberals genuinely seemed to believe their only role to play was to cajole municipalities into more rezoning and faster processing of permits.
Now there is a government in Victoria that came to power largely on the promise of listening to municipalities, rather than using them as a whipping boy. But listening is one thing. Acting is another. And we still have our doubts about whether the NDP is willing to tackle the unaffordability crisis, particularly if it means risking the millions in equity some have enjoyed.
The speech from the throne this week certainly talked a big game about addressing supply and demand in our housing market. But it’s the provincial budget due out next week that will show us how serious the NDP really is.
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