August 2013
Connections (August 2013)
Connections: Advocacy News from the British Columbia Real Estate Association – August 2013 
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  Seeking Tax Fairness for Homebuyers

Because housing affordability directly impacts the quality of life of British Columbians, BCREA consistently and regularly recommends that the provincial government minimize the negative impact of the Property Transfer Tax (PTT). That’s why BCREA will put the following recommendations forward during the annual provincial budget consultation process, conducted by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

BCREA recommends the provincial government:

  • index the 1% PTT threshold of $525,000 using Statistics Canada's New Housing Price Index, and make adjustments annually, and
  • increase the 1% PTT threshold from $200,000 to $525,000, with 2% applying to the remainder of the fair market value.

The PTT has always been applied in the following way: 1% on the first $200,000 of the fair market value of a property, and 2% on the remainder.

Despite the dynamic nature of the housing market, the structure of the PTT has not changed since its introduction in 1987, when it was described as a “wealth tax.” At that time, the average home price was $101,916, and the 2% portion of the tax was expected to apply to only 5% of sales. In 2012, the 2% portion applied to more than 85% of homes sold in the province.

The PTT places an unfair burden on homebuyers, and is by far the highest provincial property transfer tax in the country. While BCREA understands the government’s objective to balance the budget, adjusting the PTT may well stimulate additional activity in the real estate market, encourage spending related to property transactions and would certainly demonstrate an understanding of the important role of real estate and property owners in the provincial economy.

For more information about BCREA's government relations role and other public policy positions, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations.

 Start With Floodplain Maps

In June, the striking images from Calgary and surrounding area were a sobering reminder that flooding poses catastrophic risks to economic vitality, safety, environment, property owners and communities. Planning in advance to avoid or minimize flood damage is far less expensive than responding to an emergency. BC 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 March workshop in Vancouver. Participants 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 time, money and emotional fortitude required of 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.

The Floodplain Maps Action Plan and quarterly progress reports are available at www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations.
 2013 Land Awards: October 25

Real Estate Foundation of British ColumbiaThe Land Awards recognize initiatives that demonstrate leadership, innovation and collaboration in sustainable land use in BC. The awards, conceived by the Real Estate Foundation of BC, celebrate and honour the non-profit organizations, private companies and government bodies behind the initiatives, and the people who make it all happen. BCREA has been a sponsor of the Land Awards since their inception in 2010.

Eligible nominees are BC-based  organizations—both for-profit and non-profit—that have undertaken current programs or recently-completed projects, primarily within BC. Nominees must be working with or have worked with others—non-profits, government agencies, educational institutions, businesses, and/or individuals—in a collaborative way to plan and carry out the project or program for which they are nominated.

As long as they meet the time requirements, previously-nominated projects that have not received an award may be nominated again. Nominations are open until September 9, 2013.

This year’s awards take place on Friday, October 25 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver.

For more information about nominations, sponsorship and tickets, visit www.refbc.com/landawards.

 Quality of Life in a Nutshell

BCREA uses an approach called Quality of Life to provide the framework for its advocacy efforts. Quality of Life involves aligning BCREA’s goals with those of the government and the public, establishing alliances with other organizations, supporting positions and recommendations with solid research and seeking balance among the following five principles:

  • Ensuring economic vitality
  • Protecting property owners
  • Preserving the environment
  • Building better communities
  • Providing housing opportunities

A new video is now available online that explains this approach and demonstrates the commitments REALTORS®, BCREA and the 11 real estate boards around the province have made to improve Quality of Life in BC.

The video can be viewed on YouTube, and from the Quality of Life pages on BCREA Online.

 Contact Us

Where do you stand on the public policy issues addressed in this issue of Connections? Contact BCREA at [email protected] with your comments about these issues, or to provide an update on your organization’s successes. For more information about BCREA’s public policy positions, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca.

To subscribe to receive BCREA publications such as this one, or to update your email address or current subscriptions, click here.

British Columbia Real Estate Association
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PO Box 10123, Pacific Centre
Vancouver, BC V7Y 1C6
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