Premier David Eby stated that more must be done to boost the number of rental homes and increase home building in communities since B.C. is in a “desperate” housing situation where demand is surpassing supply.
At a press conference, he stated that two pieces of legislation introduced on Monday would end rental restrictions and require local governments to reach housing growth targets in order to improve the supply of homes.
According to Eby, the province would collaborate with local governments to meet housing targets and take away rental restrictions on apartment buildings.
While local government support the idea more housing is needed for the province, a UBCM analysis of the proposed legislation said “the legislation leaves a number of unanswered questions.”
“What we’re hoping to do with this legislation is change the conversation,” he said. “We are desperate for housing in our province. We need houses for people to keep our province running.”
“How will housing targets be defined? How will targets relate to current Official Community Plans, regional planning and growth management plans, including efforts to limit urban sprawl and address climate adaptation and mitigation?” says the analysis.
Because these elements remain undefined and will significantly affect how the legislation is implemented, UBCM encourages the Province to engage in a meaningful discussion with UBCM and municipalities to safeguard the workability and effectiveness of the legislation.
“It is simply unacceptable that a British Columbian who is searching Craigslist for a place to rent can’t find a home and somebody who owns a condo is not permitted to rent that home to that individual,” Eby said at a news conference in the legislature.
“It is equally unacceptable that a young couple that lives in a condo and decides to start a family has to start searching for a new home because that strata has a rule that everybody who lives in the unit has to be 19 years of age or older.”
Age restrictions will be removed such as 19 years of age or older to live in the building but the senior, 55 plus restriction will remain in place as an option to ensure senior housing.
Based on the number of owners who requested exemptions from the speculation and vacancy tax, Eby estimated that 2,900 strata units are vacant due to rental limitations.
The Housing Supply Act, the second piece of legislation, sets goals for communities with a shortage and tries to improve the supply of housing in British Columbia. The goals will be determined by the housing needs assessments that local governments must already produce every five years.
According to the government, eight to ten municipalities would first be subject to the targets, which will be based on community plans and growth predictions made using census data. According to the premier’s office, efforts are being made to identify those municipalities.
If the province finds that a municipality is not making efforts to reach the goals, it has three options for intervening to force compliance.
If approved, amendments to the Strata Property Act would go into effect right away, while the Housing Supply Act would go into effect by the middle of 2023.
“Instead of a canon we got a pop gun and frankly, I think young British Columbians and first-time buyers who were hoping to get into the housing market won’t have a lot to hold on to, ” Falcon added.
Sonia Furstenau, the leader of the B.C. Green Party said she was disappointed to not hear Eby announce any plan to introduce more below market-rate rentals to the housing supply for low-income renters. In addition, she said that the law does not provide any protection against real estate investment trusts, which permit investment organizations to remodel strata housing in order to boost shareholder profits.