Could a permanent housing roundtable offer solutions to the housing crisis in BC?
During a recent Surrey Board of Trade event, Housing Crisis Solutions, BCREA’s Senior VP of Policy Research and Advocacy, Trevor Hargreaves called on Premier Eby and Honourable Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing, to create a permanent housing roundtable to address the ongoing housing crisis in BC.
Hargreaves insists it is essential that the provincial government convenes a permanent housing roundtable, bringing together representatives of federal, provincial, municipal, and Indigenous government authorities, along with builders, boards of trade, real estate professionals, market rental housing providers, non-market housing organizations, and civil society organizations.
A coalition including the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, Active Manufactured Home Owners Society, Appraisal Institute of BC, BC Non-Profit Housing Association, BC Real Estate Association (BCREA), Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association – BC, LandlordBC, Mortgage and Title Insurance Industry Association of Canada, Small Housing BC, and the Surrey Board of Trade can be counted as supporting stakeholders.
“First off, I want to commend the provincial government for showing a great willingness to implement change and tackle BC’s housing issues head-on,” Hargreaves says of the Homes for People plan announced in mid-April.
However, Hargreaves says what’s lacking here isn’t new ideas, but a cohesive process.
“We are asking the provincial government for increased consultation,” says Hargreaves. “One of the main strengths of our ask is the diversity of the groups signed on. It really speaks to the over-all sectoral desire for a more careful process in developing housing policy.”
The housing crisis is very real.
The Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimates the industry would need to build 570,000 units by 2030 to get affordability back in line (or about 80,000 per year, when they have never completed more than 43,000 in a year).
“While we do have a record number of units under construction and housing starts are strong, we are already seeing completions start to slow, which means getting those units to market is going to take longer,” he adds. “The total inventory of homes for sale, both resale and new is about half of what it was 10 years ago.”
David Hutniak, CEO at LandlordBC, agrees that the current process of development for new housing policy is often inconsistent and ad hoc.
“There is a significant need for a more collaborative, multi-stakeholder process to identify the obstacles to housing attainability and the factors limiting supply across the housing spectrum,” says Hutniak. “Achieving more attainable housing for British Columbians requires a robust and coordinated effort between different levels of government, in close collaboration with market and non-market housing stakeholders. On-the-ground real estate expertise is underutilized in the policy process.”
The question on everyone’s mind.
How would the roundtable effectively assist in the process?
Both insist the roundtable’s purpose will be to involve British Columbian housing stakeholders and build upon previous examples of well-researched work and successful sectoral consultation conducted by the provincial government.
Setting the table.
By collaborating with those on the frontlines of the housing challenges - builders, REALTORS®, mortgage brokers, market rental housing providers, and non-market housing providers - the provincial government will be privy to a primary source of data on housing attainability across the housing spectrum, providing on-the-ground knowledge to identify where and to what degree challenges exist in their community.
“Why not get 40 minds together from various housing sectors to provide feedback on their provincial policies,” asks Hargreaves. “This should be at the top of the government’s agenda. Ideally, we would love to put this roundtable together within the next six months.”
As such, Hutniak says the roundtable should focus on how best to implement the “Development Approvals Process Review” and the “Canada-British Columbia Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability” final report recommendations. While the roundtable should consider increasing access to housing for all British Columbians, it should give special attention to the most at-need groups, such as persons with disabilities, underhoused individuals, and Indigenous communities.
“We urge the government to employ the expertise available in the province’s housing stakeholders to help guide the creation and implementation of efficient and effective housing policy,” says Hutniak.