With the attendance of the Province’s Premier, Ministers and MLAs, and over 2,000 local government officials debating over 200 resolutions, it was a record Union of BC Municipalities Convention (UBCM) held in Vancouver this past week.
Highlights of debate included housing affordability, adaptability, mitigation of heat related impacts in housing, retrofit programs, empty homes and short-term vacation rental platforms. Opportunities for networking were high, as was the ability to stop the Premier at an event, get a photo and have a quick chat about the impacts of ever-increasing fees and charges on our members ability to get new homes built quickly and affordably. HAVAN government relations staff also took the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Mayors and Councillors to chat specifically about the cumulative impact of their DCCs alongside increasing regional and provincial levies.
But first the announcements!
Premier Eby and Ministers Kahlon and Cullen had a lot to share with a captive audience and had announcements to make as the government moves to increase housing supply and deliver homes in more efficient and affordable manner.
Coming ahead of anticipated legislation to legalize secondary suites, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon spoke to a new Secondary Suite Incentive Program that will provide up to 3,000 homeowners with forgivable loans of up to $40,000 to build new secondary suites and rent them at below market rates.
Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, Nathan Cullen (re)announced the launch of a provincial one-stop shop digital hub, a user-friendly “Single Housing Application” tool to help clear the backlog of “tens of thousands” of applications requiring Ministerial approval.
And in his first UBCM speech as the Premier of British Columbia, Eby announced a new $61M investment to expand local governments capacity to meet new provincial development and zoning changes which will introduced to the Legislature this fall. This is to support local governments building the new homes that the Province needs them to.
A day and a half is allocated for the debate of resolutions that have been submitted by local governments. Those that are endorsed at the Convention are then left with the UBCM Executive to advocate for with the Premier and Cabinet Ministers. Those that passed include:
EB19 Mitigating Heat-Related Health Impacts in Residential Buildings
Therefore be it resolved that UBCM ask the Province to enact legislation to prohibit stratas and landlords from disallowing lifesaving temperature controls, including portable or window air conditioners and window coverings that keep out heat, to protect the health and safety of people living in those buildings during periods of extreme heat.
EB20 Incentives for Heat Pumps and Other Climate Resilience
Therefore be it resolved that UBCM request the Province make the necessary changes to the CleanBC Better Homes Program to ensure that all dwelling types are eligible for incentives and rebates for retrofits to ensure the health and safety of all British Columbians, particularly the most vulnerable, while working towards the Province’s GHG reduction targets.
NEB2 Varied Taxation Rate for Residential (Class 1) Properties
Therefore be it resolved that UBCM ask the Province of British Columbia to amend the BC Assessment Act and the Community Charter to allow the residential class to be split into two distinct residential classes so that a different rate may be applied to each type to account for the difference in the rate at which attached and detached residential properties change their value and to allow local government to more accurately charge for the cost of providing services to attached and detached residential properties
NR23 Advocacy for Pet Friendly Housing
Therefore be it resolved that UBCM ask the Province of British Columbia to direct BC Housing to develop strategies and guidance that support pet-friendly housing in the non-profit sector; And be it further resolved that UBCM ask the Province of British Columbia to consider pet friendly housing in the BC Housing Strategy update and to work with stakeholders (including but not limited to landlord’s and tenant’s associations, animal welfare organizations, public health, mental health and seniors organizations, and poverty reduction and homelessness advocates) to find cooperative solutions to increase the availability and affordability of pet-friendly housing for all British Columbians while providing appropriate protections and mechanisms of compensation for landlords
NR43 Understanding BC Hydro’s Electrification Capacity
Therefore be it resolved that UBCM coordinate with the Province, BC Utilities Commission and BC Hydro regarding the need for communities to understand BC Hydro’s readiness to meet electrification requirements and to support electrification in retrofits in order for communities to meet climate action goals.
NR69 Vacant Property Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties
Therefore be it resolved that UBCM urge the Province of BC to provide local governments with an option to introduce a vacant property tax applicable to commercial and industrial properties.
At a future time, we will share the Provincial Governments response to these asks. And that’s a wrap on UBCM.
HAVAN continues to work with CHBA BC and CHBA to advocate for all levels of government to work together to address the challenges of the housing industry including zoning restrictions, density limits, and NIMBYism.
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