November 2011
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Connections (November 2011)
Connections: Advocacy News from the British Columbia Real Estate Association – November 2011 
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  PST Exemptions Confirmed

BC’s transition back to a Goods and Services Tax (GST)/Provincial Sales Tax (PST) system is expected to be complete by March 31, 2013. When that happens, real estate commissions and new home sales will once again be exempt from the 7% PST, modestly improving affordability. BCREA received confirmation of these exemptions from Minister of Finance Kevin Falcon in early October.

Every year, the all-party Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services of the Legislative Assembly of BC conducts a budget consultation around the province. In mid-October, BCREA made a presentation to the committee, urging the provincial government to ensure that transition rules are clear and straightforward. The committee’s report quotes BCREA CEO Robert Laing in urging the government to reveal its transition plan quickly.

BCREA’s presentation also put forward recommendations to amend the structure of the Property Transfer Tax (PTT), which has remained the same since it was introduced in the late 1980s. BCREA believes that increasing the 1% PTT threshold to $525,000 (with 2% applying to the remainder of the selling price) and indexing that threshold annually would help restore tax fairness for BC homebuyers now and in the future.
 Forecasting Finesse
BCREA Chief Economist Cameron Muir has been appointed by Minister of Finance Kevin Falcon to BC’s independent Economic Forecast Council for a three-year term. For BCREA housing, commercial real estate and mortgage rate forecasts, click here.
 Residential Uses in the ALR

On November 14, amendments to the Agricultural Land Commission Act were introduced in the legislature as part of a broader set of improvements to the Agricultural Land Commission to make it a more “proactive organization.”

Among the changes is a revised minister’s bylaw standard regarding residential uses in the Agricultural Land Reserve, based on feedback to a draft document that was circulated to stakeholders in January. BCREA is pleased that the revised bylaw standard offers guidelines for municipalities about grandfathering existing homes and raises the matter of insurance.

More information:

 Flood Protection: Planning to Avoid Disaster

Much of BC is subject to flood risk. With increasing occurrences of extreme weather events, expected to result from climate change, BCREA believes advance planning and preparation is the most cost-effective and efficient approach to flood protection in BC. The Association recommends:

  • Floodplain mapping should be a provincial government responsibility, and the maps should be updated every ten years.
  • The scope of the Flood Protection Program should be expanded to include technical studies (for use in the short term, while maps are updated).
  • The Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines should be updated and reviewed annually, and should provide advice for local governments dealing with multi-jurisdictional situations.
BCREA looks forward to discussing these recommendations with government and stakeholders in the near future, to help ensure the future safety and economic certainty of BC.
 Housing Affordability Symposium 2012

Early next year, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC (CHBA BC) will hold its second Housing Affordability Symposium. The first, held in November 2010, resulted in the Action Plan to Addressing Housing Affordability in BC, which details activities to be undertaken by industry and all levels of government.

In preparation for the 2012 symposium, attendees are asked to complete scorecards, so progress toward improved affordability can be tracked in a meaningful way.

The 2012 event will provide issue-specific workshops sharing ideas to balance housing costs and community needs. This event will revisit the action plan, review collective scorecard results and provide additional roundtable discussions between various government leaders, industry professionals and other related stakeholders to result in a revised action plan.

As a planning partner for this event, BCREA encourages organizations and individuals connected to the housing sector and community development to attend the symposium to take part in this exciting opportunity for BC’s future.

To register for the Housing Affordability Symposium (February 2-3, 2012 in Richmond) and complete a scorecard.
 Contact Us

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

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