"The genesis goes back to the many discussions I've had with the premier over the years as we've developed a housing strategy for B.C. about how do we get to the next stage of affordability." That's what Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman told us last week following the Campbell administration's announcement it would be increasing the affordability of single-family homes by examining government-imposed housing charges - specifically at the municipal-level. But the Canadian Homebuilders' Association of British Columbia also discussed the issue with Premier Gordon Campbell in January, during the weekend following this year's Georgie Awards.
"When we saw that in the throne speech, we thought, 'Wow. That resembles a lot of what we were talking to the premier about.' So it was encouraging. And we're hoping the HST and the property transfer tax will be included in this review," said Casey Edge, executive director of the association in Victoria.
"The concept was a housing affordability secretariat or a review board or a review initiative to deal with the various charges on homes - to consolidate it," he continued, adding up to 18 percent of the cost of a home can come from such charges thanks to tax pyramiding. "It's something we know, on the ground level in the construction industry, is a major problem. So we just thought perhaps the premier can have a look at this and do something on it."
"If you want housing affordability, you have to look at what all the costs are from the various levels of government. And somebody has to say yay or nay to it - or at least be able to come up with some kind of balanced information that this is worth doing or this is not worth doing," he said. "Municipal politicians and provincial politicians and federal politicians all talk about the importance of housing affordability. But, at the same time, they use housing as a cash cow."