housing legislation 

Recent provincial legislation designed to compensate leaky condo owners, prevent more leaky condos and create more land for public schools is hampering efforts to create affordable housing. Rick Staehli, general manager of the Whistler Housing Authority, said legislation recently introduced by the provincial government could add as much as $3,000 to the cost of each unit of housing, including affordable employee housing projects. "I haven’t seen the new acts but I understand the costs will be passed on to everyone," Staehli said. There are two pieces of new legislation. One requires residential developers to contribute on a per-unit basis to a fund for acquiring land for public schools. The rationale is that since developers are creating subdivisions, which lead to the need for schools, they should be required to pay some of the cost. However, the cost will likely be passed on to purchasers. The second piece of legislation comes from the Barrett inquiry into leaky condos in the Lower Mainland. The inquiry recommended the establishment of a $250 million Reconstruction Fund for owners of leaky condos, and that much of the fund come from developers of new homes in B.C.’s coastal climate zone through a $1,000 levy on each new unit. A second recommendation of the inquiry was a mandatory new home warranty program, which will also add to the final price of homes. Staehli calls the new regulations "taxation for previous errors." "If the legislation is held up to its present wording it could add up to $3,000 per unit," Staehli said. "But I know it’s being challenged." Staehli predicted at least some of the new legislation, which was brought in without consulting builders, will be challenged at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting in September. "There are already inequities in school funding, I don’t see how they can legislate these things without consulting." Staehli noted that across most of British Columbia the price of land and construction costs have remained fairly stable in recent years, but the charges municipal, provincial and federal governments have tacked on to new construction have "exploded."

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