May 2011
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Connections (May 2011)
Connections: Advocacy News from the British Columbia Real Estate Association – May 2011 
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 Tax Fairness for Homebuyers

This spring, REALTORS® around the province are meeting with their MLAs to talk about the impact provincial shelter taxes (that is, the Harmonized Sales Tax and Property Transfer Tax) have on homebuyers.

BCREA and REALTORS® believe the following actions will help restore tax fairness:

  1. Increase the 1% Property Transfer Tax threshold from $200,000 to $525,000, with 2% applying to the remainder of the fair market value.
  2. Index the 1% Property Transfer Tax threshold of $525,000 using Statistics Canada’s New Housing Price Index, and make adjustments annually.
  3. Index the HST new home rebate threshold—currently set at $525,000—using the New Housing Price Index, and make adjustments annually.

More information is available at www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/shelter-taxes.

 More Actions to Improve Market Housing Affordability

Last November, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC (CHBA BC), in partnership with housing sector stakeholders and all three levels of government, hosted the first annual Housing Affordability Symposium. This event brought together stakeholders to discuss barriers and solutions to the affordability of market housing in BC.

To capture ideas and shape future discussions, CHBA BC has prepared the Action Plan to Address Market Housing Affordability in BC. Using four overarching subject areas—regulatory barriers, maximizing housing stock, economic issues and community planning—the Action Plan outlines a series of recommendations. These recommendations can impact housing affordability directly, such as reforming government imposed costs on housing, or indirectly, such as streamlining the development process.

Recommendations are aimed at four stakeholder groups: industry, municipal/regional authorities, provincial government and federal government. The recommendations are expected to form a foundation for open dialogue and interest in building a strong future through committed action that ensures housing is attainable, achievable and affordable.

 LiveSmart BC Extended and Improved

In early April, the provincial government, in partnership with BC Hydro and FortisBC announced the extension of the LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program for two years. Rebates for 35 of 54 items have increased and 12 new items have been added to the program.

Effective April 1, 2011, the increased incentives include:

  • Up to $1,500 for exterior wall insulation, up from $400.
  • Up to $1,200 for basement insulation, up from $500.
  • Up to $750 to install attic insulation, up from $310.
  • Up to $70 per window, door and skylight replacement, up from $40 each.
  • Up to $500 to replace a supplementary heating system with a pellet burning appliance, up from $250.
 Residential Uses in the ALR

Since January, the Ministry of Agriculture has sought input on a draft Bylaw Standard for Residential Uses in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The draft bylaw is a response to a request made by Metro Vancouver for a standard bylaw for municipalities to use in regulating the size and location of homes on ALR lands.

True to its Quality of Life approach, which balances growth with environmental protection and the development of healthy communities, BCREA believes that preserving agricultural land in BC is a worthwhile pursuit.

The Association also believes that pursuit should be undertaken in a methodical way that considers short- and long-term impacts. Therefore, BCREA has suggested to the Ministry of Agriculture that the scope of the problem should be more clearly articulated, and existing homes and property owners should be carefully considered.

An online public consultation is expected to occur before further steps are taken. BCREA looks forward to this opportunity for property owners to comment.

 Contact Us

What are your organization’s positions on the public policy issues addressed in this issue of Connections? Please contact us at [email protected] with your comments about these issues, or to update BCREA on your organization’s successes.

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