Image: Parliament Buildings in Victoria (Ryan Kelm Photography)

In one of three major moves to fix the housing crisis in BC, the provincial government has introduced legislation to give local governments more control in the rental housing market.

If approved by the legislature, the Local Government Statutes (Residential Rental Tenure Zoning) Amendment Act would give municipalities two new powers:

  • Zoning undeveloped land for the construction of rental units, or decree that a certain percentage of units on that land have to be rented out; and
  • Make existing rental units remain rentals after redevelopment.

“Local governments are on the front lines of the housing crisis, so they’re well positioned to guide the right types of housing to meet the needs of their residents,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“There is a shortage of rental homes in British Columbia. The steps we are taking today will both help local governments track the needs of their communities, and give them a powerful tool to deliver homes people can afford in the communities where they work, go to school and raise their families.”

Local governments have the option of choosing whether or not they want to use these rental zoning powers.

Mandatory housing needs assessments

A second bill – Bill 18 – was also introduced to amend the Local Government Act.

If approved, this new piece of legislation will mandate that local governments must conduct regular housing needs assessments and produce reports every five years.

This will be supported by provincial funding of $5 million over three years, and is meant to aid municipalities in coming up with housing solutions for the specific needs of each community.

“Victoria is a renter’s city and, as such, purpose-built rental housing represents a key element of the City of Victoria’s Housing Strategy,” said City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

“The ability to use the power of zoning to support the maintenance, expansion and revitalization of this vital housing form offers us an important tool in meeting our affordable housing goals.”

No more tax evasion on pre-sale condos

The province’s third step is to crack down on people who evade taxes while selling condos before they have been built.

To address this, the government is recommending changes to the Real Estate Development Marketing Act which would make real estate developers file a report whenever a condo is flipped before it has been built.

“For too long, people who resell condos before they have been built have been inflating real estate prices, without necessarily paying taxes on their gains,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance.

“We are making it fairer for people who want to buy a condo, by making sure those who flip pre-sale condos are paying their fair share.”

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