No silver bullet for housing affordability in BC
Governments push housing costs higher
Metro Vancouver’s high housing costs remain a discouraging reality for many local British Columbians, and there’s been a huge amount
of discussion recently about how we can ease affordability pressures.
But first, we need to give up the hope for a silver bullet and put all the issues on the table. Then we need to focus on the ones we’re most able to do something about. And on the top of that list are the added costs that our governments tack onto the price of a home. Fees, red tape, regulatory complexity and unacceptable delays add unnecessary premiums to already expensive housing in Metro Vancouver.
Governments often claim to be deeply concerned about affordability, but study after study confirms they’re part of the problem. And what’s even more troubling is lack of transparency and restrictions on consumer choice. Governments are quick to trumpet the benefits of new regulations – even if they don’t always hold up to scrutiny – but rarely have much to say about costs.
Did you know, for example, that Vancouver’s requirement for a LEED Gold Standard on projects requiring rezoning is estimated to add nearly $12,000 to the cost of a condo? And there are many other examples of mandatory features that many homebuyers would probably choose to do without, if they were allowed that choice.
Concrete and correctible issues like regulatory costs are where we need to focus our efforts, even though many other issues also contribute to housing costs. That includes the ongoing influx of people from around the world into Metro Vancouver – but it’s a largely unavoidable and an otherwise welcome outcome of living in a vibrant world-class city.
To a significant extent, we’ve imposed higher housing costs on ourselves, or allowed governments to do so. We need more transparency and awareness in relation to government-imposed costs, and a concerted effort to bring them down. And we need to give people greater freedom of choice to strike their own balance between housing features and affordability.