The head of the association representing residential home builders in the Greater Victoria is giving the 2019 provincial budget a thumbs-down, when it comes to solving the housing crisis.
Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association (VRBA), said the budget presented by the New Democratic minority government does nothing to improve the supply of market housing.
“Only supply can result in more affordable housing,” he said in linking rising housing prices to predictable demographic trends. The current period of high prices coincides with baby boomers downsizing and millennials — the largest demographic group since the baby boomers — entering the market, he said.
While Edge acknowledged the inclusion of 200 modular housing units, he dismissed their impact by describing them as “band-aids” that do not address fundamental issues.
This current government, like previous ones, including those headed by B.C. Liberals, continues to gives municipalities self-determination. This philosophy has splintered the region into 13 municipalities and prevented the development of a comprehensive regional plan that aligns housing with transportation.
“Regional planning is absolutely essential to housing affordability,” he said.
Without it, municipalities are free to pursue their own plans, especially when it comes to identifying areas of density (or not). “And it is density that heightens affordability,” he said.
Other obstacles to affordability include “exceedingly slower” development processes and rising costs, said Edge.
“But clearly there is nothing in the budget that is going to change that,” he said. In this context, he points out that British Columbians will see the carbon tax rise, even though Canada as a whole contributes 1.6 per cent to global greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions.
He also wonders whether the provincial government is being upfront with the public about the issue of affordability.
If PTT ( a tax on home value) remains at $1.9 billion for 3 years either new housing starts aren't dropping 25% (as forecast with job losses) or house prices rising, which means housing affordability is not happening. Not credible. #bcpoli #Saanich #Langford #OakBay #VictoriaBC https://t.co/GRqgq5ZujD
— Victoria Builders (@VicBuilders) February 20, 2019
On the one hand, the provincial government expects new housing starts to fall by 25 per cent by 2021-22, he said. On the other, it predicts that residential revenues will rise to $1.9 billion in 2021-22. This, however, means fewer houses are selling at higher prices, thereby destroying any future prospects for more affordable housing, he said.
“You can’t have your cake, and eat it too,” he said.