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OUR VIEW: Civic governments can’t tackle housing affordability alone

That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try – or that housing won’t be on the ballot this fall
Condos under construction in Langley City in August, 2022. (Langley Advance Times files)

Everyone running for office in Langley this October seems to have one thing in common so far: all of them are going to do something about the price of housing.

Whether they’re part of a slate or independent, every single candidate who has put out a statement or announced their intentions says they want to do something about the deranged price of housing.

Rent is too high. Buying costs you an arm and a leg. Homelessness keeps getting worse.

This makes for an interesting election. Everyone agrees what the problem is. Now they have to sell their solutions.

We’re going to see an election where our would-be mayors and councillors vigorously compete on what is a dense, difficult policy question – what’s the best way for a municipal government to bring down the price of housing?

Is it cutting red tape to increase the speed of development? Is it greater density? Is it opening up existing neighbourhoods to infill development? Is it prioritizing co-ops, co-housing, seniors housing, and subsidized housing? Is it partnerships with BC Housing?

Each slate and independent candidate 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 table in a single medium-sized suburb.

– M.C.