Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.


The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Government regulations add to housing costs: minister

Government regulations drive up the cost of housing in British Columbia, housing and social development minister Rich Coleman told delegates to the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Whistler this morning.

“Every dime we put on someone's shoulders is a piece of a mortgage that they're carrying that they have to pay and something else in the household will have to give way,” he said. Families might have to sacrifice hockey or ballet for their kids to pay the added costs, he said.

Coleman's address started a full day workshop on “Making Home Ownership More Affordable in B.C..”

Things like municipalities interpreting the building code, required engineering or geo-technical reports and the health ministry's regulation of septic systems all drive up the cost of housing, he said. He joked that anytime the word “engineer” is mentioned to someone building a house it costs $5,000.

He cited the change in provincial rules that allows builders to make six-storey buildings out of wood as a change that brings down the cost of construction and makes homes more affordable.

Coleman encouraged delegates to consider streamlining how they interpret the building code and unifying regulations across the province.

In the early 1980s a home in the province cost roughly four times an average family's annual income, MHSD's Greg Steeves said. Home prices have risen faster than incomes, so that a home now costs eight times the annual household income, he said.

Surrey mayor Dianne Watts, participating on a panel following Coleman's remarks, mentioned the HST, which added a seven percent tax to the construction of new homes over $400,000, as one of the factors that increases housing costs.

And responding to a question from a delegate, panelist Bob Deeks, president of the Canadian Home Builders Association of B.C., noted that the province's property transfer tax is a large expense that's sometimes paid as many as three times on a piece of property before somebody can move into a new home.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus