New British Columbia housing legislation, passed without much debate, worries Strata owners

Two Bills Passed With Little Debate By BC Premier David Ebyof the province’s NDP government in the final days of the November legislative session are aimed at addressing the province’s problems accommodation shortage and affordability issues, including high rental costs.

However, the new laws have many owners of condos and other condominiums worried.

Bill 43housing supply law, and Bill 44the Building and Strata Statutes Amendment Act, which aims to increase the supply of housing in British Columbia by ending rental and age restrictions and requiring certain municipalities to meet housing targets, were introduced November 21 and promulgated on November 24 after the debate was time-limited.

The bill is the NDP’s response to long-standing housing shortages and affordability issues in British Columbia. In particular, Vancouver leads the country with the highest monthly costs, where currently the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $3,598 per month.

Wendy Wall, president of the Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association (VISOA), says VISOA has been inundated with calls from members since Eby announced her housing plans on September 28, before taking over as premier . She said changes to condominium laws would not achieve the desired results and could make housing worse.

“Everyone agreed that we needed more housing and that there was a shortage of rental housing. What they were trying to communicate when they drafted their MPs is that this is not the solution,” Wall said in an interview. “Taking away the ability of condominium corporations to set their own democratic bylaws was not going to fix housing.”

The Housing Supply Act will give the Minister of Housing the power to set housing targets for specific municipalities that have the greatest demand and the fastest growth. These goals may include housing availability and affordability. A municipality under a housing target order must prepare progress reports, and if it is not meeting the target or not making enough progress, the provincial government may require it to take certain steps to achieve the goal. purpose or do so on its behalf.

The Building and Strata Laws Amendment Act removes condominium companies‘ ability to restrict or prohibit the rental of their condominium lots, such as condos, and also prohibits them from passing bylaws to impose age restrictions.

“Bill 44 in particular, which impacts condo rental and age restrictions, will affect one million British Columbians who live in condos, but the NDP won’t let us debate the potential unintended consequences. which could include condominium insurance rates that continue to skyrocket,” Opposition House Leader Todd Stone said Nov. 24. Before Christ Liberals Press release.

The Housing Department defended the legislation in an email to The Epoch Times.

“To help provide more good homes for people, the province has introduced new laws to build the homes people need, allow vacant homes to be rented, and remove discriminatory age and rental restrictions in strata that harm young families,” the ministry said. said.

“The Housing Supply Act…will give government the ability to set housing targets in communities where there is an identified need for more housing. Municipalities will be encouraged to do all they can to create conditions for developers and builders to create new housing, including revising their zoning bylaws and streamlining development approval processes.

He added that the department supports “the ability of municipalities to determine what housing will look like, but not whether housing is built in a community.”

The BC Green Party and BC Liberals have criticized the NDP for imposing time limits on debates and invoking closure to end debate on bills, and forcing a vote on all the laws they introduced.

“Not going to fix the accommodation”

Wall said the government uses data collected from its speculation and vacancy tax exemption requests over the past few years to calculate what he suspects are vacant condominium units available for rent. But many of these units are used for short-term rentals such as airbnbs, and many strata already allow up to half of their units to be used for long-term rentals.

One of his main concerns is the effect on seniors on fixed incomes or first-time home buyers who now have to compete with investors and developers.

“Many of them [condo and townhouse] properties, when they had no rents, investors and developers were not interested,” she said.

“Now we are looking at a group of properties that have the lowest price on the market. To me, these are the units we want our first-time home buyers and downsizing seniors to move into. … [But] now they are going to be competing with investors who are now interested and can lease them.

Young Anderson Barristers and Solicitors said in a newsletter to clients that the province’s housing intervention is setting a precedent.

“Overall, Bill 43 is a clear indication from the province of its willingness to intervene in matters that in recent history have been entirely within the purview of local governments, with the aim of meet provincial housing targets,” said Young Anderson. .

Owner-Occupant Condos Versus Rentals

Joanne Thibault, a Victoria resident and condo owner, echoed Wall’s comments. She told The Epoch Times that new housing legislation is unlikely to create rental space since most homeowners buy homes because they want to live there.

Additionally, once investors start buying the homes and the pool of condominium unit owner-occupiers begins to dwindle, she sees fewer residents willing to tend gardens, shovel snow, or approve improvements that a community of homeowners would typically approve.

“Because we live here, it’s ours and we don’t mind investing the $100,000 needed to build a new building envelope,” Thibault said.

“If there are at least 25% of the units that are now converted to rentals, because the new owners are investors and they just want to rent those units, they will have absolutely no appetite to invest in the repairs of superior quality that Owner-occupied strata buildings normally go with.

The Ministry of Housing said in its email that Bill 44 stemmed from a recommendation from the British Columbia Rental Housing Task Force in December 2018, which stated that “key strata partners were also consulted. , including strata owners associations and strata property management associations”.

The task force’s recommendations and conclusions document, however, makes no mention of consulting these associations, although it did indicate that it held 11 community meetings across the province and also allowed for comments by the through online discussions and e-mail.

Wall said VISOA was never contacted and Thibault said the government ignored all of his outreach.

BC Liberals have accused Eby and his government of thwarting democracy after Eby pushed through Bills 43 and 44 along with seven other bills in the last four days of the fall session .

“As the fall legislative session is over, the David Eby era of stifling debate and the erosion of democracy to suit its own needs has begun,” the party said in its statement. November 24 release.

Jeff Sandes is a freelance contributor to The Epoch Times based in the Vancouver area.

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