October 2010
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Connections (October 2010)
Connections: Advocacy News from the British Columbia Real Estate Association – October 2010 
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 CHBA BC Housing Affordability Symposium, November 1-2

This fall marks an important event for market housing affordability in BC. On November 1 and 2, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC (CHBA BC), in partnership with housing sector stakeholders and all three levels of government, will host the Housing Affordability Symposium in Richmond, BC.

This event is the first of its kind, as it brings together stakeholders to openly discuss barriers and solutions to the affordability of market housing in BC. This symposium provides multiple interactive roundtable discussions among attendees. Join with the delegates, consisting of elected officials, construction industry leaders and members of government, to engage in this critical issue for the future of housing.

The symposium will also feature numerous keynote speakers, including:

  • Minister of Housing and Social Development Rich Coleman
  • BCREA Chief Economist Cameron Muir
  • Urban Futures Institute Executive Director David Baxter
  • Geller Group President Michael Geller

Results from the symposium will be used to prepare the follow-up report: Action Plan to Address Housing Affordability in BC. This document will be presented to government this year, and form the foundation for future discussions among all stakeholders, providing actionable items to address the issues.

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.

 Fairness for Homebuyers: BCREA's Provincial Pre-Budget Submission

On September 28, BCREA brought forward recommendations to improve housing affordability and tax fairness for BC homebuyers.

Provincial shelter taxes, namely the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), place an unfair burden on homebuyers. For this reason, BCREA asked the provincial Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to forward the following recommendations to the Minister of Finance for inclusion in the 2011/2012 budget:

  1. Increase the 1% PTT threshold from $200,000 to $525,000, with 2% applying to the remainder of the fair market value.
  2. Index the 1% PTT 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.

BCREA believes a fair system of taxation and a thriving economy will help citizens throughout BC enjoy an enviable quality of life and BCREA hopes that its recommendations will be considered to improve housing affordability with simple adjustments to the province’s tax structure for the 2010 provincial budget.

To read the full pre-budget submission, visit the BCREA’s website at www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/shelter-taxes2011/provpre-budget.pdf.

 Improving the Strata Property Act

Since the Strata Property Act took effect on July 1, 2000, BC REALTORS® have developed a unique understanding of this legislation by helping tens of thousands of British Columbians buy and sell strata properties. To help ensure the Act serves the public well, BCREA submitted a brief to the provincial government on October 13, which included several recommended improvements.

Through an extensive consultation process that spanned three years and involved stakeholders, real estate practitioners and BC’s 12 real estate boards, the following themes and solutions emerged:

Theme Solution
Potential buyers of strata properties need further and better information. Review and add new provisions to the Form B Information Certificate to require strata corporations to disclose more information about parking stalls and storage lockers, leased equipment, engineer’s reports, depreciation reports and/or reserve fund studies, building envelopes, roofs and the number of strata lots that can be rented.
Strata corporations and property managers need clarifications regarding procedural matters. Create additional provisions to assist self-managed strata corporations; i.e., a best practices guide created by the Financial Institutions Commission or a schedule of best practices appended to the Strata Property Act, similar to the standard bylaws.
Strata corporations need an alternative dispute resolution process. Add new provisions in the Strata Property Act to create an alternative dispute resolution process for strata corporations, as introduced in Bill 8, Strata Property Amendment Act, 2009.

BCREA has asked that these recommendations be considered by the provincial government to help provide BC homebuyers with important information and protect the rights of strata property owners.

To read the full Strata Property Act brief and other BCREA submissions, visit the Association’s website at www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/government-relations-information.

 Water Act Modernization: Engagement Report

The Ministry of Environment released its Water Act Modernization Engagement Report on September 7. The report summarizes months of public input into water planning and decision-making as BC responds to the impacts of climate change, population growth and increasing demands on the province’s fresh water supply.

The government had sought input using a discussion paper based on eight principles, and BCREA’s letter to the ministry focused on two. The following is a brief summary of the feedback received on these two principles:

Principle Feedback
Water resource legislation, policy and decision making processes as well as management tools are integrated across all levels of government. Generally supported. Strong support for more streamlined legislation, policy and decision-making. Many suggested a modernized Water Act should take precedence over other legislation. First Nations expressed strong concerns regarding pro­vincial jurisdiction to unilaterally govern and manage water in the province. Other submissions cautioned that great care is necessary to “avoid abuse of power at any level” and that changes should be “integrated across all levels of government to address the lack of integration within each government level.”
Rules and standards for water management are clearly defined, providing a predictable investment climate across the province. Received the most comments, and consistently attracted concern from many sectors. Overall, a majority of respondents do not support this. Com­ments indicated that the term “predictable investment climate” should be more clearly defined or removed.

Further consultations are expected to begin in October. Click here for the full report: www.livingwatersmart.ca/water-act/docs/wam_report-on-engagement.pdf.

 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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