On May 9, British Columbians cast their votes for the next provincial government.
It took a couple of weeks to get the final results, and now the elected parties—the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens—must work together to govern this diverse province.
A topic that all three elected parties agree on is the importance of housing affordability. Housing was a key election issue throughout the campaign period, and all three parties made numerous policy promises about it in their election platforms.
The parties took differing positions on some aspects of housing affordability. The Liberals highlighted financial incentives for home buyers and homeowners that they introduced in the last legislative session, proposing a gradual approach to expand these programs.
The NDP and Green parties focused more on renters, and both promised to increase housing supply and tackle real estate speculation. The Green Party also took aim at reducing housing demand by proposing considerable changes to the Property Transfer Tax and other property taxes.
However, there were a few key ideas that had support across party lines. All three parties agreed that cooperation between governments, non-profits and business to create more market rental housing is crucial, as is increased urban density. The Liberal and Green parties agreed that local governments should be incentivized to implement faster approval processes, and the NDP and the Greens agreed that increased density along transit corridors is particularly important.
That’s good news for British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), because these ideas are among the Association’s recommendations to improve housing affordability. Throughout the campaign, BCREA promoted several suggestions, organized into five pillars:
1. Ensure the Property Transfer Tax accurately reflects the real estate market.
2. Provide assistance for home buyers, homeowners and renters.
3. Encourage the creation of more rental housing.
4. Encourage urban density.
5. Promote local government best practices.
BCREA engaged with candidates, the media and the public through a new website (www.bchousingaffordability.ca) and a robust social media strategy.
Housing affordability was undoubtedly a crucial election issue, and the Association used this platform to position REALTORS® as important advocates for affordability. BCREA’s goal is for renters, first-time and move-up buyers to have appropriate, affordable housing options available to them.
Real estate boards around the province were also active during the campaign. Many boards worked with other stakeholders to hold all-candidates’ meetings. A few boards even held candidates’ forums specifically focused on housing affordability. Several boards also launched “No Vote, No Voice” campaigns to encourage British Columbians to get out to vote.
BC’s 2017 provincial election has been unique. The results have shown that our province can often be divided, with issues such as housing affordability looking different in each community. It’s now up to the provincial government to understand each local context and for all parties to work together on responsive solutions to these diverse needs.
BCREA remains committed to advocating for improved housing affordability. We’ll advance recommendations with all MLAs on this issue and many others, to ensure BC remains an affordable place to live and thrive.
For more information on BCREA’s housing affordability recommendations, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca/governmentrelations/