Good housing policy is good climate policy.
As we’ve seen from the climate disasters that have already hit BC three times this year alone (the heat dome, the forest fires and the flooding/landslides from extreme rainfall), we need an overhaul of our emergency response plans and to rapidly upgrade our infrastructure and communities for climate disasters. Homes need to be protected from floods and landslides, and equipped to handle extreme temperatures.
Climate change is already impacting the housing market, especially as more and more people are displaced due to more intense weather events. The value of a home will decline as a region becomes less and less hospitable. At the same time, home maintenance will become more expensive, from increased hydro costs to repairs. Repairs in particular can be extremely expensive, because, as climate disasters become more frequent and powerful, homeowners are increasingly being categorized as uninsurable for situations such as flooding.
Tens of thousands of British Columbians in the past five years have been forced out of their homes due to wildfire and floods. These displacements are not just short-term – they can have lasting impacts on communities, local economies, and mental health. However, not everyone has the financial means to move out of an uninhabitable region, or to afford new housing elsewhere.
Indigenous people are disproportionately affected by disasters, due to the remote location of some of their communities, away from first responders. As well, lack of coordination between the different levels of government poses problems.
Connecting housing policy to climate policy means building livable, resilient, affordable homes that will withstand extreme weather events, as well as mitigating the effects of climate change. Improving housing affordability can and should protect us from climate change and grow the clean economy.