In addition to the demand-side measures outlined above, government should take action to enable better use of our existing housing supply and to build new supply that meets the needs of average British Columbians. The NDP has already publicly committed to building a large number of new units to ease supply-side constraints. In meeting these commitments, it is crucial that government builds new supply for people who live and work here - we do not need more luxury units for wealthy speculators. In increasing supply, the province should work with and empower local governments to respond to the crisis in ways appropriate to local communities.
The demand-side measures we outline will generate extra revenue that can be directed towards affordable housing measures, including building rental, non-market, and supportive housing. Investments should also be made for retrofitting older buildings, particularly older affordable housing units. In addition to preserving existing affordable housing stock, retrofitting will reduce greenhouse gas emissions - over half of Vancouver’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings.
Government should encourage and support local governments to take action to restrict and regulate short-term rentals, as the City of Vancouver has done. In our extremely tight rental markets, with near 0% vacancy rates, short-term rentals like Airbnb are taking many units out of long-term rental supply. The Province should work with local governments to acquire better information and tracking ability of short-term rentals and to encourage property owners to return units to the long-term rental supply.
Government should enable all local governments to tax vacant homes, as they have done for the City of Vancouver through recent enabling legislative changes made to the Vancouver Charter. This would further discourage absentee ownership and raise revenues at the local level for affordable housing initiatives.
The province should work with local governments to rethink zoning, especially along transit lines. The province should enable local governments to create rental-only zoning, to incentivize the development of rental accommodation and to dampen land values. As part of encouraging greater densification, government should provide additional transit investments to local governments.