B.C. government slashes housing funding nearly in half

The release of B.C.’s 2017 budget last week revealed that the provincial government is planning to spend $320 million on housing from 2017-18 up to 2020-21—nearly half of the province’s total allocation of $600 million in housing for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong also announced a marginal increase in the First-Time Home Buyers Program threshold, up to as much as $8,000 of the property transfer tax on a residential property worth up to $500,000. Prior to the 2017 budget, the threshold was up to $7,500 on a home valued $475,000.

However, de Jong once again emphasized that the only effective answer to the red-hot home price increases across the province will be through more housing starts.

“I’ve cautioned before and I’ll say it again: We can’t just focus on getting more people into the market. On its own, without adding to the supply, that’s just going to drive prices higher,” de Jong said on February 21, as quoted by the Vancouver Sun.

De Jong added that the province plans to “help ensure cities and municipalities have the capacity, incentives and performance targets needed to expedite the processing, approvals and permitting [of development applications].”

A recent analysis commissioned by the provincial government from Deloitte found that approximately 115,000 units of housing are currently entangled in the red tape surrounding municipal planning, review, and contemplation.

“We want to engage with communities to say how do we do this better, faster, more efficiently together,” de Jong explained. “If it’s a question of resources do we need to train more urban-planning specialists? … Whatever you do it’s got to be tied to better results. We have in excess of 100,000 units, some of them have been awaiting consideration for six or seven years. That’s not good enough.”

Related stories:
Middle-class buyers finding it harder to get into the Vancouver housing market
Proximity becoming a less important factor in buyers’ decisions - observers


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