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Letters Nov. 26: Fixing B.C.'s housing mess; let the premier lead the way

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A downtown condominium building under construction. Letter-writers have a variety of suggestions for solving B.C.'s housing crisis. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Maybe we’re full, so stop building

With all the talk of housing shortages and crazy attempts by government to solve the problem, has any one considered the concept of discouraging people from moving here?

It sounds uncharacteristically unfriendly for the formerly happy people of West Coast towns and cities, but maybe the population is getting too dense for its own good.

Maybe Victoria, where I was born and raised, is full. Maybe we don’t need another concrete tower.

I know we can never go back to the old days of a Goldilocks-sized city, but when will it be big enough? When will the ­government’s need and greed for more tax dollars end?

Local services and charm are already getting pretty thin.

C. Scott Stofer

Victoria

Learn about potential tenants before you rent

The latest announcement regarding ­easing B.C.’s housing crunch is a tease to wonder what’s next. The “what’s next” is what is meaningful to the ­demographic that finds renting and buying barely affordable in Victoria and other ­municipalities.

Increasing supply and thinking this will solve our housing woes just will not work.

The Housing Supply Act is helpful if it requires municipalities to establish meaningful housing targets. What will make these targets meaningful and thus an act with some teeth is the requirement that a percentage (20 per cent?) of any new rental builds must be linked to a maximum of 30 per cent of a household’s income. Those new builds need the provincial and federal governments to remember their responsibility to build affordable housing.

Any requirements for municipalities to set housing targets that actually house the people who can least afford to live here will have no chance of success without proper funding for purpose-built accommodation linked to household income.

And to the worried condo owners whose buildings are now required to allow rentals, I recommend the advice and education that I received from ­Landlord B.C. when I was a landlord. They were very helpful.

The most helpful advice was to avoid problem tenants by knowing to whom you might rent.

I suggest strata councils pass their own bylaws requiring any owner who wishes to rent their condo to take an ­education module from Landlord B.C. Perhaps most problems can be avoided from the get-go.

Charles Joerin

Victoria

Don’t let Victoria become another Hong Kong

Housing “crises” are not new. There has been a lack of affordable housing in developed countries for centuries, and no government action in that time has really made any difference.

Government-built and -rented housing deteriorates into social disaster; development sharks wreck any attempt to keep affordable rentals on the market; slum landlords capitalize on government’s well-intentioned regulations and support mechanisms.

The only attempts that have made any progress lie in decentralizing employment so that work is available in places with intrinsic low costs. Communities can then grow around the housing rather than trying to shoehorn it into an existing expensive metropolis.

Use the financial power of government to make small towns into viable places to work, with attractive amenities like good schools and clinics that would attract the people now looking for affordable housing.

One cannot make space where there clearly isn’t any; disperse government offices, use grant-support to relocate industry and office complexes to places which have room to grow.

Do “head offices” always have to be in downtown Victoria? Please don’t let us think small and simply turn Victoria into another Hong Kong.

Alec Mitchell

Victoria

Don’t be scared by calls of housing doom

I do enjoy the “sky is falling” predictions by condo owners and their ­organizations regarding the NDP government’s ­proposed new housing rules.

The scary unseen speculators who will pounce on these changes and ruin ­housing options for everyone. The ruinous ­renters who will destroy the ambience of ­rent-restricted buildings. The hoards of invasive newcomers.

Perhaps the drafters of these ­legislative changes are just as informed and equally justified in their view that these changes will confront the housing ­challenges faced by so many. It’s obvious something is needed.

But do not overlook that ­unsustainably low interest rates for over 15 years let everyone run amok with buying, ­selling and flipping in the housing ­industry. ­Public housing was dismantled or deferred, restricting affordable units in any major quantity.

We’ll see if these scary ­speculators thrive in a scenario where their ­interest-carrying costs are doubled or ­tripled with rising rates. Until then, let’s let those attempting to change ­affordability do their best and more power to them. Literally.

Max Miller

Saanich

Let the premier lead the way on housing

Looking forward to the announcement that Premier David Eby is converting his Point Grey residence into a fourplex ­enabling three currently unhoused ­families to secure accommodation.

Hope his neighbours are OK with the idea.

D.S. Sinclair

Victoria

Rental restrictions are shown on the title

Even though Premier David Eby hasn’t addressed the sitting vacant single family home suites as yet, he has created a huge legal and moral dilemma for places like Saanich/Broadmead, North Saanich/Dean Park and West Vancouver/British Properties, just to mention a few. All three of these neighbourhoods, among others, ­contain condo and single family home rental restrictions on the title.

Broadmead, with 1,200 single family homes, has a number of condo developments, as do the other restricted areas. Presumably the condos in these single family home developments are strata titled.

As such, condo owners in Broadmead and the other aforementioned areas now have more rights than individual homeowners when it comes to how they can best use their properties.

So the irony at this point is that thousands of suites purposely built still sit empty with no change in legislation announced at this point, many more units than the 3,000 suites provincewide that they hope to get from removing condo restrictions from titles.

One could argue that it’s an unfair discrimination against homeowners or an unfair burden placed upon condo owners in these areas. It’s like that line in Planet of the Apes: “Some apes, it seems, are more equal than others.”

Doug Coulson

Saanich

Vander Zalm was behind property transfer tax

Re: “Affordable housing: There is money for it,” letter, Nov. 22.

The assertion that the NDP introduced the property transfer tax is false. It was introduced in 1987 by then-premier Bill Vander Zalm of the then-Social Credit Party.

Richard C. Parsley

Nanaimo

Speculation tax undermines trust in law

Canada justly prides itself in many things, but the rule of law is no longer one of them.

The so-called speculation tax is touted by its proponents as a means of ­promoting affordable housing by taxing those who cannot vote, namely ­foreigners and fellow Canadians who do not live in B.C.

This law allows politicians to pretend they are doing something about a serious problem while in fact their policies are useless, as demonstrated by ­skyrocketing home prices since this tax became law.

Aside from its issues of fairness and blatant political pandering, this law establishes the unfortunate precedent that rules can be changed retroactively for political convenience: the law is not grandfathered, meaning that investment decisions made under one set of rules are now judged under another.

This is very bad for the future of the people of B.C. Who in their right mind would invest in a place where laws can be changed retroactively? A place where wise investments suddenly become ­foolish ones?

Perhaps we will next have a ­retroactive tax on parents with two or more children because of the cost to the state of educating them.

A price will be paid for undermining trust in the rule of law. Fortunately, proponents of this tax will probably be long gone when the bill comes due.

John Pesando

Metchosin

B.C. foundation could help pediatrics at VGH

Re: “Island’s pediatric centre needs your support,” commentary, Nov. 23.

Dr. Jennifer Balfour’s comments ­regarding pediatric needs at Victoria General Hospital ring very true. The VGH facilities are indeed undersized and underequipped.

Our small private foundation here in Victoria has supported both B.C. ­Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Victoria Hospitals Foundation (specifically the pediatric unit at Victoria General) for many years and have seen this local lack of facilities first-hand.

The missing focus in this conversation is:

B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation, by its very mandate, is positioned to raise funds for the pediatric unit at Victoria General Hospital; and, based on the success of fundraising for the new B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, BCCHF is a fundraising entity without equal.

I have often wondered why BCCHF is not more directly and fully engaged in upgrading the pediatric facilities at VGH, the second largest population centre in British Columbia. Or why the Victoria Hospitals Foundation has not seen this opportunity to have BCCHF assist with local fundraising.

Perhaps the two involved health authorities (Fraser and Vancouver Island) could also get involved in this initiative and help to make the pediatric unit at ­Victoria General more effective for southern Vancouver Island.

Russ Grant

The R.K. Grant Family Foundation

Victoria

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