Housing supply is determined by two major partners – the development community, and the municipal governments.
But in the midst of a multi-year rolling housing crisis, the provincial government needs to step in.
Only the provincial government has the power, and the pocketbook, to help solve the multiple interlocking pieces of the housing puzzle.
We have a homelessness crisis, and an affordability crisis. We have a shortage of supply despite a massive building boom. We have speculators flipping properties and others using Air BnB to create covert hotels that skirt taxes and regulations.
With a new NDP provincial government, we have a fresh perspective in Victoria.
Premier John Horgan doesn’t need to come in with a hammer, smashing up what’s already in place, nor does he need to drown the problem in money.
The best thing the B.C. government could do right now would be to nudge the mayors of Metro Vancouver into working together. There are 21 municipalities in Metro, each with slightly different visions and priorities. But they’re all getting hammered by the same regional problems.
The mayors are already communicating with one another. But getting them moving in the same direction may require more. It might mean incentives – financial or regulatory. It might mean working with developers. It might mean directly intervening by building more affordable housing in partnership with mayors and Ottawa.
Horgan has vowed to do something about housing. Get the cities in line, and half the battle is won.