There is much to be done in order to improving housing affordability in the Lower Mainland, according to two policy proposals, both released this week, by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA).
The two organizations share much common ground in the ways they think governments should approach housing affordability, with a few key differences. Here’s how their recommendations compare.
Density and Diversity of Housing Supply
Both organizations identify diversity and density of housing as key priorities.
The Board of Trade recommends that politicians “create a smart regulatory environment that encourages the addition of more supply and greater diversity in housing form and tenure, with a particular focus on the Missing Middle,” as well as using density bonus zoning “wherever possible and appropriate.”
The board also recommends concurrent permitting to speed up development projects that offer affordable and diverse housing options, and a region-wide accreditation program to fast-track processes for those with a “proven track record.”
The BCREA specifically recommends zoning changes to encourage more laneway homes and secondary suites while providing financial incentives to encourage municipalities to fast-track projects like townhomes and co-ops. The association also suggests a public education campaign to increase the acceptance of new rental developments and buildings that target first-time homebuyers.
Both sets of recommendations highlight the need to build along new transit lines.
The Board of Trade recommends pre-zoning for transit-oriented housing development during the planning stages of new rapid transit projects, while BCREA specifically suggests financial incentives to encourage the development of affordable three-bedroom homes in transit corridors that are currently at lower density.
While both organizations agree that more rental housing is needed in the Lower Mainland, they take different approaches to increasing supply.
The Board of Trade suggests that rather than negotiate community amenity contributions for each new development project, governments should waive or offer credit toward the contributions for developments with specific rental components.
BCREA focuses on rental housing owners, rather than developers, suggesting changes to Capital Cost Allowance rules and the capital gains tax to encourage sellers of investment real estate to re-invest in rental properties.
Measures for Homebuyers
BCREA recommends additional measures to assist homebuyers, including extending eligibility for the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) and indexing the HBP withdrawal amount to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The association also recommends changes to the PTT that would increase the exemption for first-time homebuyers to $750,000, increase the 2 per cent PTT threshold to $525,000, and adjust the PTT thresholds annually based on the CPI.
To read the full BCREA recommendations, click here.
For the full Board of Trade housing affordability report and recommendations, click here.