March 2015
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Connections (March 2015)
Connections: Advocacy News from the British Columbia Real Estate Association – March 2015 
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  Disclosure and Remediation Needed

Every day, potential homebuyers and tenants make decisions about where to live—often without full knowledge of whether the properties in question have been used in drug operations. These properties can pose serious health and safety risks resulting from mould, chemicals, electrical fires and invasion by criminals looking for drugs, even if the property is no longer being used for drug production.

Unfortunately, even identifying the number of drug operations in the province, or any other jurisdiction is a challenge. Anecdotes and research indicate BC has the second-highest number of drug operations in Canada, with up to 18,500 grow-ops and up to 500 drug labs.

In April, REALTORS® from around the province will meet with MLAs to explain the need for improved processes to disclose and remediate properties used in drug operations. BCREA has three key recommendations:

  • Develop a centralized, consistent process for disclosure of property history information.
  • Describe a healthy building and then develop a centralized, consistent process for remediation of buildings used in drug operations.
  • Define a "drug operation" in a meaningful way.

For more information about BCREA's position, including a short video, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/drug-operations.

 Spotlight on Floodplain Maps

The Real Estate Foundation of BC has featured BCREA's floodplain maps initiative in the latest addition to its Spotlight Video Series. REFBC has been very supportive of BCREA's work in this area, providing three grants since 2012, helping BCREA connect with other stakeholders and providing opportunities for BCREA to promote the importance of floodplain maps in effective flood management. The video is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YseUxQ9wBrA&feature=youtu.be.

In other interesting floodplain mapping news, the March report from Alberta's Auditor General notes that successive provincial governments in Alberta have been remiss in not adequately managing development on floodplains. The findings reinforce the position BCREA has taken for several years that floodplain maps are essential and need to be kept current. The report is available online: www.oag.ab.ca/webfiles/reports/OAG%20March%202015%20Report.pdf (starting on p. 71).

 Opinions About the PTT

BCREA has observed with interest recent comments and media attention on the Property Transfer Tax. Since the tax was introduced in 1987, BCREA has recommended dozens of ways for the provincial government to either eliminate or minimize it.

During a Surrey Board of Trade event recently, Premier Christy Clark expressed her own lack of affection for the PTT. Her comments triggered much discussion in the real estate sector, where REALTORS® often hear complaints from their clients.

Because the full Property Transfer Tax (that is, both the 1 per cent on the first $200,000 and 2 per cent on the remainder) applies to about 85 per cent of homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® every year, the Premier's remarks were noted far beyond the real estate community. For an interesting perspective, check out this March 5 editorial from The Vancouver Sun: "Clark could end or reduce repressive property transfer tax."

 Changes for Buildings and Builders

Two recent actions by the provincial government impact the building sector.

Building Act
For several years, the BC Government has worked toward unified application of the BC Building Code. A significant step forward was taken in February with the introduction of Bill 3: Building Act.

The legislation is the result of extensive consultations and proposes to streamline building requirements, establish mandatory qualifications for local building officials and expand the provincial government's ability to review innovative building proposals. Local governments (with the exception of the City of Vancouver, because the requirements won't apply there) will have two to four years to transition.

Builder licensing
In March, the Province announced enhanced licensing for residential builders, a move supported by the Canadian Home Builders' Association of BC and the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association. Obtaining a new licence will require demonstration of proficiency in seven areas related to residential construction, and licence renewal will include continuing professional development courses.

The enhanced licensing system will be phased in over the next 16 months to give the industry time to prepare for the new requirements. The qualifications will be administered by the Homeowner Protection Office.

 Contact BCREA

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/government-relations.

BCREA is the professional association for more than 18,500 REALTORS® in BC, focusing on provincial issues that impact real estate. Working with the province's 11 real estate boards, BCREA provides continuing professional education, advocacy, economic research and standard forms to help REALTORS® provide value for their clients.

To demonstrate the profession's commitment to improving Quality of Life in BC communities, BCREA supports policies that encourage economic vitality, provide housing opportunities, respect the environment and build communities with good schools and safe neighbourhoods.

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
1420 – 701 Georgia Street West
PO Box 10123, Pacific Centre
Vancouver, BC V7Y 1C6
Click here to visit the BCREA Connections archive, available on BCREA Online.

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Real estate boards, real estate associations and REALTORS® may reprint this content, provided that credit is given to BCREA by including the following statement: "Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission."
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