‘Holding back our entire economy’: B.C. lays out housing plan, warns house-flipping tax imminent

Click to play video: 'B.C. announces ‘Homes for the People’ action plan'
B.C. announces ‘Homes for the People’ action plan
WATCH: The provincial government is attempting to tackle the current housing crisis. The 'Homes for People' plan unveiled Monday includes changes to build faster and ways to offer more affordable units. Richard Zussman and Keith Baldrey have more on the details and reaction. – Apr 3, 2023

The provincial government has introduced a multibillion-dollar, four-point housing plan aimed at cracking down on soaring real estate prices, increasing construction and creating more rental units.

Premier David Eby, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon and State of Child Care Minister Grace Lore revealed the ‘Homes for People’ plan on Monday. It promises legislation that allows up to four units on a single traditional housing lot, and warns that a tax on the proceeds of house-flipping is coming.

“It has become a crisis for too many people, for example, in their 20s and 30s who are still living with their parents,” said Eby. “Even people making a good income are struggling to find a place to live.

“It’s holding back our entire economy. Businesses are struggling to attract workers who can’t afford to live in the communities where the jobs are.”

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Click to play video: 'Premier David Eby lays out four-point housing plan for B.C.'
Premier David Eby lays out four-point housing plan for B.C.

The province’s latest budget earmarked $4.2 billion for a “refreshed” housing plan over the next three years, with more than $1 billion of it to be spent this year. Nearly half of that $1 billion targeting the construction of new units through Building BC and acquiring land near transit routes.

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Monday’s announcement includes four pillars: opening more homes faster, building better and more affordable homes, supporting those with the greatest need, and creating a market that “works for people, not speculators.”

“For those thinking about buying a house to flip it, think again,” said Eby. “For those planning to flip a home they own, the tax is coming, this is your warning.”

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The plan starts with a $4-billion investment over three years and commits to $12 billion over a decade.

The plan will change province-wide zoning laws to allow more townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, and row homes, as well as make it easier and legal for people to rent secondary and basement suites. It will also offer forgivable loans for homeowners to build those suites below market rates to increase affordable rental supply more quickly.

“Without more of these types of homes, we risk pushing more of our next generation out of this province,” explained Kahlon.

Another 4,000 units of on-campus student housing have been promised, in addition to “thousands more social housing units.” The province is also committing to building up to 10,000 new homes near public transit in the next 10 to 15 years.

Click to play video: 'B.C. premier talks ‘success’ in previous housing plan, addresses DTES'
B.C. premier talks ‘success’ in previous housing plan, addresses DTES
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Kahlon said B.C. aims to be a “North American leader in digital permitting” as it aims to build homes more quickly.

While this plan gets underway, both he and Eby said the province is on-track to meet its target of building 114,000 new units over 10 years.

“We’re growing gangbusters and we need our housing supply to keep up with it,” Eby told Global News.

“We’ve delivered, the number is about 74,000 units either complete, in development or under construction, or delivered through initiatives like the speculation vacancy tax.”

Click to play video: 'Open House: Easy improvements to up a home’s selling price'
Open House: Easy improvements to up a home’s selling price

Before Eby appointed a dedicated housing minister, he tabled legislation aimed at working with municipalities to build homes and increase rental properties, and consider changing age limits in stratas.

He also said he wants to phase out single-room occupancy hotels in Vancouver and replace them with more “dignified housing” after recent concerns over safety conditions in the units.

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An estimated 7,000 people live in Vancouver’s SROs in 156 buildings. Many of the buildings are aging and in desperate need of repair and maintenance, and housing officials are calling for better oversight and management.

Eby said the lengthy process of phasing them out is not acceptable to British Columbians but it is going to take some time to make real change.

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