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Metro Vancouver unicorn: GVBoT calls on feds to step in to address housing affordability

Last Updated Aug 8, 2019 at 7:26 am PDT

FILE: Downtown Vancouver. (Lasia Kretzel , NEWS 1130 Photo)

Greater Vancouver Board of Trade wants to see feds do more to address affordable housing, rentals

GVBoT has made four key recommendations

While some projects are in the works, GVBoT says the region needs 6,000 new rentals a year to keep up

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – We’ve looked to cities and the province to make moves on housing affordability — or the lack of it — and now, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade says it’s time for the federal government to step up.

“It’s going to take a lot of different measures, and that’s what we’re focusing on here is what the federal government could be doing here as well,” Evi Mustel, vice-chair of the GVBoT, explained.

A new report from the board is recommending four key incentives that could help.

For one, Mustel explains freeing up federal land for buildings could be a good start. She notes rental housing is a key issue that isn’t being properly addressed.

“It’s been identified that we require 6,000 new units per year — well we only built 1,900 in 2019, so there’s quite a gap between what is being built and what is needed,” she said. “It’s having a significant economic impact and so far we are just not addressing it.”

Offering incentives to build rentals, like breaks on GST, is another recommendation being made by the board, along with other “creative” ways to encourage developers to build more homes for renters.

“We’re hearing from developers that it’s very hard to provide the business case for purpose build rentals so there needs to be more incentives there,” Mustel said. “Give a GST exemption on the capital cost of building the rental, which would save anywhere from three to six per cent on rentals.”

Some of those savings, she explains, would pass on to the renter, too.

Syncing transit and housing funding would help increase rental density at transit hubs, the board adds, and making changes to the Income Tax Act to “support new rental construction,” is another incentive floated by the board.

“They may seem like small measures but they do add up and can have significant impact on the final renters,” Mustel said.

Of course, with a federal election around the corner, Mustel admits she doesn’t expect any big action anytime soon.