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EDITORIAL: Only some housing solutions can be found at local council tables

Civic leaders will need partners at provincial and federal levels to tackle the affordability crisis
The real estate market is cooling in Chilliwack and across the region. (File photo)

Housing is on the ballot this fall in Chilliwack, and in just about every other city and town across B.C.

Five years ago last month, a detached house in the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board area sold for about $584,000.

Last month, it was just under $920,000.

With rent also ludicrously expensive, with no end in sight to the crisis of homelessness, municipal candidates are all declaring “affordability” to be one of their key issues.

But how will our would-be mayors and councillors tackle this issue?

Is it cutting red tape to increase the speed of development applications? Greater density? Infill development? Prioritizing co-ops, co-housing, seniors housing, and subsidized housing? Partnerships with BC Housing?

Seemingly vast in size geographically, 67 per cent of Chilliwack is in the Agricultural Land Reserve so there is very little undeveloped land. The city is squeezed into a sausage along the Yale-Vedder corridor. New housing can only go up, as in taller buildings or up on the hillsides, both expensive to build.

Each candidate for city council is going to have to convince voters that not only can they bring in the best policies, they can also implement those policies effectively.

But the truth is, while municipal politicians are an important part of the process, they can’t solve this problem alone. The unhinged boom in housing prices has been a worldwide phenomenon. New Zealand, Britain, and the U.S. have all seen similar superheated markets.

There are key things local governments can do, but the heaviest lifting will be done by provincial and federal leaders, and by Canada’s central bank. We’re not going to solve a worldwide housing issue around the council tables in medium-sized suburbs.

But voters should make sure to choose candidates who understand the issue.

Black Press Media

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