Making Rental a Reality

Published in the January 29, 2020 edition of the Times Colonist

We are all aware that the Capital Region, and other urban areas of the province are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis.  While housing providers support the Provincial commitment to build 114,000 affordable rental homes by 2027, we believe more needs to be done to increase the supply of all housing options across the spectrum.  The imbalance between demand and supply is particularly acute in the Purpose Built Rental (PBR) housing sector.  The lack of new PBR has made it increasingly difficult for British Columbians to find homes to rent.  In the Capital Region our rental vacancy has hovered around 1% for several years.

Demand-side measures implemented by the different levels of government such as the mortgage stress test, BC Provincial Step Code and Speculation Tax are negatively impacting the ability to improve affordability in the rental market.  And once again the Province is responding to the affordability crisis, this time by granting all municipalities the authority to zone for residential rental tenure (RRTZ).  This new tool (RRTZ) was to protect rental units, increase housing choice and improve affordability.  However, with little guidance or impact research from provincial policy makers, this new zoning legislation has been interpreted by some municipalities in ways that have devalued properties, reduced incentives to create new homes and infringed on property rights without consultation to landowners.  Contrary to much of the perception by elected officials, RRTZ alone will neither provide affordable rental homes for future tenants nor prevent displacement and renovictions.

RRTZ alone cannot address the critical housing challenges that we are facing today.  However, if guidance is provided to allow municipalities to use this policy for its intended purpose, it could be one of many tools used to provide positive change to our housing crisis.

Learn more about RRTZ here: