Government Relations Blog Posts

Government Relations Blog Posts

The BCREA Blog is a platform for sharing the latest education news, economics statistics, issues relating to the profession and links to valuable resources for REALTORS®, stakeholders and the public.

    • Government Relations

    Historic Investment in Affordable Rental Housing

    Published Nov 29, 2016

    On September 19, the BC Government announced that it would create 2,900 affordable rental units across BC. The money for this initiative—a whopping $500 million—is available through the new Housing Priority Initiatives program, which is largely funded by the foreign buyers’ tax.

    The September announcement followed a commitment in the February provincial budget to invest $355 million in affordable rental housing over a five-year period. Together, the two programs are expected to yield 4,900 units of housing, which will include a mix of options, including new construction, to meet the needs of a wide variety of people all over BC.

    In late November, 68 projects were announced, and a complete list is available on BC Housing’s website. Details are gradually coming available through government news releases, as well (visit https://news.gov.bc.ca and search for “rental housing”).

    BCREA’s pleased with the initiative, appreciating a supply-side approach to this housing challenge. Although the Association doesn't agree with all of the government's actions during the last few months regarding the real estate sector, these rental units will have a meaningful impact for many citizens. In a September letter addressed to Premier Christy Clark, BCREA urged the government to take quick action and offered the assistance of REALTORS® to provide insight as the program is implemented.

    • Government Relations

    Historic Affordable Housing Investment

    Published Oct 24, 2016

    On September 19, the provincial government announced that $500 million would be invested in affordable rental housing in BC, which would create 2,900 affordable rental units across BC.

    The money for this initiative is available through the new Housing Priority Initiatives program, which is largely funded by the windfall of revenue from the 15 per cent Property Transfer Tax levied on foreign homebuyers in the Greater Vancouver Regional District.

    The units will include a mix of options, including new construction, to meet the needs of a wide variety of people all over BC. The provincial government has committed to identifying and approving all of the projects by March 2017, with new construction being complete within 36 months.

    BCREA is pleased with this initiative. Although the Association doesn't agree with all of the government's actions during the last few months regarding the real estate sector, these rental units will have a meaningful impact for many citizens. In a letter addressed to Premier Christy Clark, BCREA urged the government to take quick action and offered the assistance of REALTORS® to provide insight as the program is implemented.

    Learn more:

    • Government Relations

    New Superintendent of Real Estate and Council Members

    Published Oct 19, 2016
    2016-10_article-1The BC Government has appointed Micheal Noseworthy as the new Superintendent of Real Estate, beginning October 19, 2016.

    Mr. Noseworthy brings experience as a regulator and public sector leader to his new role, having recently served as a senior government regulator in the Yukon, and as Superintendent of Real Estate, Superintendent of Insurance, Registrar of Lotteries and Registrar of Medical Practitioners.

    On October 12, the government also announced the appointment of nine Real Estate Council of British Columbia members, including Chair Robert D. Holmes. BCREA is thrilled that the Council includes two licensees, Sukh Sidhu and Gerry Martin, who are thoroughly familiar with the practice of real estate in BC.

    In additiona, the province announced that amendments to the Real Estate Services Act (RESA), which took effect on September 30, include increasing the Superintendent's regulatory role to administer the Real Estate Council of BC's former rule-making authority and increasing the maximum penalties for real estate licensee misconduct.

    On October 7, BCREA representatives met with the Office of the Superintendent, the Real Estate Council and the Financial and Corporate Sector Policy Branch (Ministry of Finance) to present organized real estate's submission in response to these amendments and the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) recommendations.

    BCREA congratulates Micheal Noseworthy on his new role as Superintendent of Real Estate as well as the new Real Estate Council members, and looks forward to working collaboratively with both offices in the months and years to come.

    More information:

    • Government Relations

    New Video: BCREA's Response to IAG Recommendations

    Published Sep 20, 2016

    Following the release of the Real Estate Council of British Columbia's Independent Advisory Group (IAG) Report on Conduct and Practices in the Real Estate Industry in BC on June 28, there was a flurry of attention throughout the province on what the next steps might be. In review of the report's 28 recommended changes to real estate practice in BC, BCREA went to work on how to respond.

    Watch the latest video update from BCREA President Deanna Horn on the Association's recent activities, such as meetings with brokers, in response to the IAG recommendations, a summary of the main concerns that BCREA has heard from members and the next steps to working with the government and the Council on implementation.

    For more information and resources related to real estate practice, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca/about/repractice.

    • Government Relations

    Public Trust: Changes Coming to Real Estate Practice

    Published Aug 10, 2016

    The first step to implementing the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) happened on July 28, with the approval of changes to the Real Estate Services Act (RESA).

    The IAG recommended several government actions to improve the protection of real estate consumers, and the RESA amendments demonstrate the government's eagerness. The legislative changes cover a range of issues, including shifting rule-making authority to the Superintendent (instead of the Real Estate Council of BC), making all Council members appointees (instead of being elected) and increasing fines.

    Regulations are required to bring these changes into force, and BCREA doesn't know the timeline for implementation. To be clear, the Real Estate Council will continue to exist when these changes take effect. In fact, maintaining a separation between the Council and the Superintendent will be important, because of the Superintendent's authority to appeal Council's decisions.

    That leaves several of the IAG recommendations still in limbo, because a new, dedicated Superintendent of Real Estate has to be appointed.

    In the meantime, BCREA is working with all real estate boards on three key projects:

    • preparing a submission to the Superintendent, Real Estate Council of BC and Minister of Finance; the document will address all 28 recommendations, with focus on the ban on limited dual agency, increased workload for managing brokers and the introduction of a regulatory code of ethics,
    • consulting with brokers, and
    • developing a communications plan to reach out to REALTORS® and the public.

    Click here for a collection of resources on real estate practice issues.

    • Government Relations

    Property Transfer Tax for Foreign Nationals

    Published Aug 08, 2016

    With no warning, on July 25, BC Premier Christy Clark announced an additional 15 per cent Property Transfer Tax (PTT) for foreign nationals. Effective August 2, the tax applies to residential real estate in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (with the exception of properties located on Tsawwassen First Nation lands).

    In an effort to ensure market stability, consumer confidence and fairness, BCREA, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) urged BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong to at least include a provision that would allow transactions that were already underway to be exempt from the new tax. The Minister was not at all sympathetic to that request.

    REBGV and FVREB have both published news releases, and also encouraged their members to express their concerns to their MLAs.

    BCREA has written to Minister de Jong to register the Association's frustration with the way the additional PTT was implemented, and requesting that future changes (some of which can be made by regulation) include exemptions for transactions that are already underway.

    More information about the new tax is available in the government's Tax Information Sheet.

    Despite the way the additional PTT was introduced, the good news story is that all of its proceeds will be used for a Housing Priority Initiatives Fund. The fund will be created later this year, and will be used for provincial housing and rental programs. The government will make an initiative investment of $75 million, and then the fund will be topped up with proceeds from the new, additional 15 per cent PTT on foreign nationals.

    BCREA's mobile tax calculator has also now been updated to accommodate the new, additional 15 per cent PTT. Click here to view the updated calculator.
    • Government Relations

    BCREA's Tax Calculators: Now Mobile!

    Published May 24, 2016

    Did you know that BCREA has an online tool to help you and your clients determine the taxes payable on the purchase of property in BC? Three calculators are available for your use, and they're now also accessible on your mobile device.

    When a property is purchased, the potential amount of tax to be paid can vary greatly. These calculators indicate how much Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Property Transfer Tax (PTT) should be charged, less any PTT exemptions (for first-time homebuyers and/or newly-built homes), as well as any eligible federal rebates, and estimate the total costs.

    There are three calculators. Simply start with a purchase price that either:

    • includes sales taxes, net of available rebates,
    • includes full sales taxes, or
    • does not include sales taxes.

    To view these calculators, click here. To view the new mobile version, which combines all three of BCREA's calculators into one, click here. You can also save the page as a bookmark which enables the calculator to be used offline.

    Were you also aware that changes were recently made to the PTT? With the 2016 BC Budget, the following changes were made:

    • Newly-constructed homes used as principal residences, up to $750,000, are exempt from the PTT. A partial exemption is available for new homes up to $800,000. This is for all buyers, not just first-time buyers. For more information, click here.
    • The PTT rate was increased to 3% on the portion of a property's fair market value above $2 million. Rates of 1% on the first $200,000 of a property's fair market value and 2% on the fair market value between $200,000 and $2 million will continue to apply. For more information, click here.
    Although these changes are a step in the right direction, the PTT still negatively impacts housing affordability in BC and BCREA therefore has recommendations to the provincial government on potential improvements. To view BCREA's recommendations, click here.
    • Government Relations

    New Contract Changes Related to Assignments to Benefit Consumers

    Published May 17, 2016

    In the wake of a recent flurry of media coverage related to assignments, positive changes have been made so that real estate consumers now have a tool to help them decide whether they want their contracts to be assignable.

    As of May 16, 2016, the BC government requires that contracts prepared by real estate licensees include clauses stating that the contract cannot be assigned without the written consent of the seller, and that any profit from an assignment goes to the initial seller. Clients can instruct licensees to omit or change the clauses.

    To help consumers and REALTORS® with the transition, BCREA has added the following paragraph to the residential and commercial Contracts of Purchase and Sale:

    The Seller and the Buyer agree that this Contract: (a) must not be assigned without the written consent of the Seller; and (b) the Seller is entitled to any profit resulting from an assignment of the Contract by the Buyer or any subsequent assignee.

    "Assignment" is the practice of someone assigning their rights in a contract to someone else before the transaction completes. In simple terms, someone can buy the right to step into the original buyer's shoes to complete the contract. Assigning one's right to a contract is a legitimate practice, allowed by common law and also by section 36 of the Law and Equity Act.

    For more information, visit the following:

    • Government Relations

    Water Sustainability Act: Groundwater Protection

    Published Apr 20, 2016

    On February 29, groundwater licensing began as the first phase of implementation of the new Water Sustainability Act (WSA) in BC. For an overview of the WSA, click here.

    Licensing applies to large, commercial groundwater users. A three-year transition period is in place, and application forms are available online at www.frontcounterbc.gov.bc.ca. Those applying for licences before March 1, 2017 won't have to pay the application fee.

    Domestic well owners are exempt from licensing, though they are encouraged to register their wells through FrontCounterBC. Doing so will help ensure that future regulations are based on data, and could help protect users' future rights.

    The new Groundwater Protection Regulation applies to all groundwater users, whether commercial or domestic. The regulation includes more requirements regarding well construction and maintenance. With about 2,000 wells drilled in BC per year, the impact could be widespread. For further information, see the Groundwater Protection Regulation brochure.

    In addition to groundwater protection, the WSA also introduces a new Dam Safety Regulation. The regulation defines a dam and the types that are regulated in BC. About 1,500 dams are regulated, and factors include height, capacity and consequence classification. Owners of regulated dams must have water licenses and maintain their dams. For further details, see the Dam Safety Regulation information sheet.

    • Government Relations

    Old Floodplain Maps Put British Columbians at Risk

    Published Dec 03, 2015

    This isn’t news to BCREA, or to many stakeholders around the province. Unfortunately, this risk is very real for much of BC, as demonstrated by the most recent report from BCREA.

    Only 21 per cent of BC communities and First Nations have access to a floodplain map that’s ten years old or less, according to the BC Floodplain Map Inventory Report, published in October by BCREA. Nearly 31 per cent reported they have no access to floodplain maps at all.

    Floodplain maps support decision making by showing risks to existing and proposed developments and infrastructure, and help support resilient growth and emergency planning. To be effective, though, the maps must be updated regularly to reflect changes in land development, the environment and climate.

    The BC Floodplain Map Inventory Report identifies the BC floodplain maps created or updated in the last ten years. It also describes the public availability of maps, availability of supporting data, and challenges and opportunities communities have experienced with floodplain mapping projects.

    The report results suggest that better information about floodplain maps, guidelines for their development, data standardization, and stronger funding mechanisms will all improve the state of floodplain mapping in BC. Better floodplain maps will make communities, First Nations and the entire province more resilient.

    The BC Floodplain Map Inventory Report is the most recent completed project coming out of BCREA’s Floodplain Maps Action Plan, which was developed in 2013. For other resources created as part of that initiative, including the following, follow this link www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/flood-protection.

    • Government Relations

    Input Wanted: Examples of Wetlands Conservation

    Published Jun 03, 2015

    The Okanagan Basin Water Board is looking for innovative examples of long-term protection of wetlands or other conservation values on private land in the Agricultural Land Reserve that have occurred in the last five to ten years.                                 

    Examples can include: rights of way, easements, covenants, subdivision, parks, or any other approaches used. Further, they can involve local governments, land trusts, or other parties in addition to the private land owner.

    If you have examples or would like to discuss this further, please contact Jillian Tamblyn at [email protected].

    The Okanagan Basin Water Board was instituted in 1970 as a collaboration of the three Okanagan regional districts to provide leadership on water issues spanning the valley. Advised by an innovative cross-disciplinary council, the organization delivers programs and activities to promote coordinated water management throughout the basin. For more information, visit the OBWB website

    • Government Relations

    National Disaster Mitigation Program Begins

    Published Apr 23, 2015

    In January, Public Safety Canada announced that the National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) would begin in April 2015. At last, on April 17, more information was released in a call for proposals from provincial and territorial governments.

    The NDMP will provide $200 million over five years to build safer and more resilient communities. The main objectives are:

    • focusing investments on significant, recurring flood risk and costs, and
    • advancing work to facilitate private residential insurance for overland flooding.

    To that end, the program has $183 million dedicated for cost-shared projects with the provinces and territories in the following four funding streams:

    • Risk assessments,
    • Flood mapping,
    • Mitigation planning, and
    • Investments in non-structural and small scale structural mitigation projects

    In addition, the NDMP includes $17 million for:

    • Risk, resilience and return on investment tools to provide provinces, territories and communities with the needed information and capacity to plan and evaluate their flood mitigation projects,
    • A risk and resilience repository that will collect, store, manage and share NDMP information to inform future policy and program direction for all levels of government, and
    • Public awareness and engagement activities.

    How will this play out in BC? The BC government continues to work with the federal government and stakeholders to further define and understand the parameters of the NDMP. To make the most of these funds, a very strategic approach will be taken, with keen interest in risk assessments and flood mapping (those messages have been heard!), but not precluding other activities. Once the BC government’s plans are firmed up, an announcement will be made.  

    BCREA appreciates the NDMP’s focus on technical studies and mitigation, which aligns well with the Association’s position that existing floodplain maps need to be updated to better protection communities and citizens.

    More information about the NDMP is available at www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/mrgnc-mngmnt/dsstr-prvntn-mtgtn/ndmp/index-eng.aspx.

    Other floodplain mapping news:

    • On April 30 and May 1, BCREA will continue to get the word out about the importance of floodplain maps with a tradeshow booth at the Southern Interior Local Government Association convention in Kamloops.
    • Until May 11, BCREA is isurveying BC local governments and First Nations about their awareness of, interest in and actions around floodplain mapping. The results will be available this summer.
    • Check out events and other resources at www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/flood-protection/flood-protection-resources.
    • Government Relations

    Disaster Mitigation Funding on the Way

    Published Jan 19, 2015

    The federal government and the insurance industry have seen costs related to flooding and severe weather increase significantly in recent years. Making good on a promise in the 2014 federal budget, the Government of Canada has announced that the National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) will begin on April 1, 2015.

    It will reduce flood-related costs for all levels of government and contribute to establishing conditions for the introduction of a residential flood insurance market in Canada. The program will see $200 million distributed over five years, for cost-sharing for projects focused primarily on flood mitigation.

    This is certainly good news for communities and residents across the country. The NDMP’s proactive approach is welcomed by BCREA, as a far more cost-effective way to manage disaster risk.

    BCREA’s also pleased that technical studies, such as flood maps, may be eligible for funding under this program. Past cost-sharing arrangements have favoured only infrastructure projects, even though technical studies help determine what and whether infrastructure is necessary.

    On the other hand, $200 million over five years isn’t a major investment. It’s in addition to the New Building Canada Fund, which makes $14 billion available for significant infrastructure projects. But even that commitment may not meet the needs of communities across the country, where aging infrastructure is a major challenge.

    Another piece of good news is that the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements will continue to cover up to 90 per cent of eligible expenses for disaster recovery. The funding formula will be updated effective February 1, and the threshold will be adjusted to half the rate of inflation over the past 44 years. The details of the new formula will likely be important.

    BCREA looks forward to more information about the National Disaster Mitigation Program, including the allocation of funds to provinces and territories and how the funds can be accessed.

    For several years, BCREA has advocated for updated floodplain maps in BC to help ensure communities make informed decisions about growth and emergency response. For more information, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/flood-protection.

    Public Safety Canada news release: The Government of Canada Announces Disaster Mitigation Investments and Modernizes Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (Jan. 16, 2015): www.news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=922139.

    • Government Relations
    • Practical Points

    REDMA Changes Impact Disclosure, Rescission, Deposits

    Published Sep 17, 2014

    When the financial market crashed in 2008, many buyers who had signed pre-sale contracts before the downturn reconsidered their contracts. Some buyers decided that purchases that had been a great investment when the contracts were signed didn’t seem like such a good deal anymore. Some buyers simply didn’t have the money to close.

    This led to several court cases in which the BC courts applied a very strict and very consumer-friendly interpretation of the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (REDMA). These court cases have raised concerns that complying with REDMA is often difficult, time-consuming and expensive for developers, and that there needs to be a rebalancing between the rights of developers and the rights of buyers under REDMA.

    In response, in spring 2014 the legislature passed several amendments to REDMA. The new amendments came into force on May 29, 2014, and amended Policy Statements from the Financial Institutions Commission will take effect on October 1, 2014.

    Several of the changes will be of interest to REALTORS® and their clients, including:

    • Consolidated Disclosure Statements and Phase Disclosure Statements;
    • delivery of disclosure statements by electronic means;
    • new limits on when a buyer can rescind a contract;
    • occupier’s rent; and
    • new guidance on when a buyer forfeits a deposit.

    For an examination of these issues, and background information behind the changes, click here.

    • Government Relations

    Flood Mitigation Funding: Good News for 26 Communities (& More Action Needed)

    Published May 02, 2014

    The federal-provincial announcement that 26 flood mitigation projects in BC will receive funding is welcome news. The risk of flooding affects the entire province, and the damage can be widespread and catastrophic. This new funding will help these communities plan ahead. 

    The BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) appreciates the collaborative efforts of the federal and provincial governments to assist BC communities. Like so many issues, flood management is complex and requires cooperation at all levels.

    Unfortunately, many other BC communities are also at risk. Throughout the province, outdated floodplain maps limit the ability of local governments to make effective decisions about community growth, flood management and emergency response. BCREA will continue to work with all levels of government to advance ideas that help communities overcome the technical, political and financial obstacles to updating floodplain maps and keeping them current.

    Earlier this week, REALTORS® from around the province met with MLAs to discuss the need to update floodplain maps around the province. One of the recommendations made by BCREA was that senior government funding programs should cover technical studies—a suggestion made by many stakeholders. Technical studies are extremely valuable for communities in making decisions about flood management, community growth and emergency response. Even though undertaking a technical study is a practical first step, flood mitigation funding programs don’t cover them.

    The full submission made to BC MLAs is available on BCREA’s public website, and is the latest example of BCREA’s work on floodplain maps. This week’s advocacy activity stems from the Association’s Floodplain Maps Action Plan, which was created out of a 2013 workshop with stakeholders, including decision makers and practitioners involved with flood management, land use and emergency management.

    For more information, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/flood-protection

    Read the BC government news release.

    • Real Estate Sector
    • Government Relations

    BC Archaeology Regulations: What to Know

    Published Feb 27, 2014

    Given the potential costs and limitations to developing property containing a protected archaeological site, REALTORS® must ensure that known, protected sites on a property are disclosed as part of a real estate transaction.

    Archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage Conservation Act and therefore, a site alteration permit must be obtained before developing within the boundaries of an archaeological site.

    REALTORS® should also be aware that archaeological sites are not noted on the certificate of land title and can check the Provincial Archaeological Site Inventory to determine if there is a record of a protected site on the property. Licensees can speak to a professional consulting archaeologist who has access to the Provincial Inventory and can provide an interpretation. Alternately, you can make a data request to the Archaeology Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 

    When an archaeological site is connected to a property for sale or purchase, there are several commonly asked questions that you'll be asked as a REALTOR®, such as:

    • Why should I be concerned about archaeological sites on my property?
    • Will an archeological site on my property affect its value?
    • What need to be done to develop a property which includes an archeological site?

    For responses to these questions and many others, visit the Archaeology Branch’s Property Owners and Developers - Frequently Asked Questions. For more information, visit www.for.gov.bc.ca/archaeology.

    • Real Estate Sector
    • Government Relations

    Help for First-Time Buyers

    Published Feb 19, 2014

    Effective for registrations on and after February 19, 2014, the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) exemption threshold under the First Time Home Buyers’ Program is increased to $475,000 from $425,000, with the partial exemption/phase out applying between $475,000 and $500,000.

    The government estimates that approximately 1,700 first-time buyers will benefit this year, saving an average of $4,000 (and up to $7,500) at a cost to government estimated at $8 million in fiscal year 2014/2015 and the same in 2015/2016.

    The First Time Home Buyers' Program reduces or eliminates the amount of PTT first-time homebuyers pay. The program was established in 1994, and this is the first change to the exemption threshold since 2008.

    BCREA certainly appreciates this goodwill gesture on the part of the government. The more people who are able to buy homes in British Columbia, the greater the wider economic impact. A 2013 study by Altus Group Economic Consulting found that the average housing transaction in BC on the Multiple Listing Service® generates about $64,500 in expenditures.

    The Association looks forward to continued conversations on minimizing the negative impact of the Property Transfer Tax, and sees this as a positive step.

    More information:

    • Government Relations

    Making Progress on BC Floodplain Mapping

    Published Sep 17, 2013

    The Floodplain Maps Working Group met recently to discuss priorities and next steps. The results of that discussion and other developments are offered in the second quarterly progress report on the Action Plan: www.bcrea.bc.ca/docs/government-relations/2013-09-progress-report.pdf

    There has been a lot of activity over the past few months. Here are just a few of note:

    • The Real Estate Foundation of BC has approved a grant of $10,000 for a research project to identify innovative funding models to allow local governments to update floodplain maps. The BC Real Estate Association will work in collaboration with the following project partners on this research: Fraser Basin Council, Insurance Bureau of Canada and Okanagan Basin Water Board.
    • On September 11, the federal-provincial-territorial ministers responsible for emergency management met in Ottawa to discuss emergency management priorities, including how mitigation efforts can lessen the impact of disasters on communities.
    • Public Safety Canada recently issued a request for proposal for a study regarding floodplain maps best practices and the current state of floodplain mapping in Canada.
    • During the Union of BC Municipalities Convention in Vancouver this week, BCREA’s tradeshow booth will focus on the Floodplain Maps Action Plan. If you’re attending the convention, please drop by!

    The Floodplain Maps Action Plan is truly a collaborative initiative, and BCREA is indebted to the Floodplain Maps Working Group for their expertise, insights and support. Members include representatives from the Adaptation to Climate Change Team at Simon Fraser University, Fraser Basin Council, Ebbwater Consulting, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Ltd, EBA, Urban Development Institute and Okanagan Basin Water Board.

    For the July progress report and the complete Floodplain Maps Action Plan, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/flood-protection.

    Recent media coverage and discussion:

    • Government Relations

    Moving Forward: Floodplain Maps in BC

    Published Jul 15, 2013

    In April, BCREA published its Floodplain Maps Action Plan, which outlines 21 key actions to update existing floodplain maps around the province and keep them current.

    One of the first actions accomplished was to form the Floodplain Maps Working Group, consisting of experts and stakeholders. The Working Group provides BCREA with guidance regarding priorities, timelines, project partners and objectives of actions contained in the Floodplain Maps Action Plan. Working Group members also act as champions within their own spheres of influence to move forward the Floodplain Maps Action Plan.

    Following each quarterly meeting of the Floodplain Maps Working Group, BCREA will publish a progress report. As implementation of the Floodplain Maps Action Plan progresses, actions, timelines and project partners may change, and the progress reports will track those changes.

    Of particular note in the current progress report is the identification of the following action item as a priority:

    8. Assess best available flood hazard information and other data inputs necessary to develop flood hazard maps, identify data gaps and propose a plan to fill data gaps.

    The July 2013 progress report is available on BCREA Online.

    For more information about BCREA’s floodplain maps initiative, and why floodplain maps are critical to flood management, see the June 25 BCREA blog post.

    • Government Relations

    Floodplain Mapping: Planning to Avoid Disaster

    Published Jun 25, 2013

    The striking images from Calgary and surrounding area are a sobering reminder that flooding poses catastrophic risks to economic vitality, safety, environment, property owners and communities. While the BC government offers aid to Alberta in its time of crisis, BCREA and other stakeholders urge action in this province.

    Planning in advance to avoid or minimize flood damage is far less expensive than responding to an emergency. British Columbia has an opportunity now to implement effective measures to avoid disaster.

    Not many people know that almost 70 per cent of the existing floodplain maps available online from the BC government are at least 20 years old. Experts recommend that floodplain maps should be updated every ten years.

    A floodplain map shows areas that are subject to high flood hazard, and helps form the foundation on which many decisions are made about how and where communities grow. Outdated maps pose a major challenge to governments and the business community, as they rely on accurate, up-to-date information for land use planning, emergency response management and capital investments.  Outdated floodplain maps also compromise the ability of decision makers to effectively assess and manage flood risks, putting BC communities in jeopardy.

    In April, BCREA published a Floodplain Maps Action Plan, which outlines 21 key actions required to update existing floodplain maps and keep them current.

    The Floodplain Maps Action Plan was generated by nearly 70 decision makers and practitioners involved with flood management, land use and emergency management at a workshop in Vancouver in March. The attendees expressed their shared concerns for BC communities and discussed the technical, financial and political challenges and opportunities to updating existing floodplain maps.

    An important step is to make the case for and then acquire political support with respect to the importance and urgency of floodplain mapping. Floodplain maps, and preventative flood management policies and practices, can save significant future costs with a relatively modest investment.

    The cost implications in the long term of taking limited or no action is significant. Federal, provincial and local governments spend tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars to repair flooding damage, as well as the significant resources spent by individuals, families and the business community to clean up after a flood.

    Elected officials and senior executives within federal, provincial and local governments will need to be approached to obtain this support in a timely fashion. A coordinated effort that involves professional associations, foundations, the business and consulting community, academia and non-governmental organizations will be essential in delivering a collective and coordinated call for action.

    Flood management impacts the entire province, including every community and every citizen, and BCREA looks forward to working with stakeholders around the province to increase awareness and carry out actions to update floodplain maps.

    In reaction to the current devastating flooding and the state of emergency declared in communities across Southern Alberta, BCREA is also pleased to report that the Canadian REALTORS Care® Foundation has launched an initiative to collect REALTOR® donations for the Canadian Red Cross’s Alberta Floods Fund. Click here to make a contribution and receive a tax receipt, or send a cheque by mail to the address found here.