Vancouver homebuilders drowning in red tape: think-tank report
Published Thursday, April 27, 2017 1:51PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, April 27, 2017 7:37PM PDT
Construction workers build new homes in a development in Ottawa on Monday, July 6, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A newly-released think-tank report comparing the amount of red tape for residential home developments has ranked the City of Vancouver dead last.
The report surveying housing developers and individual home builders, New Homes and Red Tape in British Columbia, found that Vancouver has the longest building approval times in the entire Lower Mainland when it comes to building single-family and multiple dwelling homes, coming in at an average of 21 months – nearly two years.
That's compared to 18.3 months for West Vancouver and Surrey, at 13.2 months.
The City of Langley had the shortest wait time by far, with most approvals coming through in less than two months.
Kenneth Green, research director at the Fraser Institute and co-author of the study, believes the staggering amount of red tape Vancouverites face could deter new homes from being built – in a city where increasing housing supply could help to lower prices.
“Compared to the City of Langley, it takes an average of 19 months longer to receive a building permit in Vancouver—a fact that should worry anyone concerned about high home prices in the city because the added time means extra costs that are ultimately passed on to homebuyers,” he said in a statement about the survey's findings.
Vancouver was also given a failing grade when it comes to the high costs to comply with residential housing regulations.
The report found that every new unit of housing built in Vancouver cost almost $78,000 for regulatory compliance. The second-worst on the list is Surrey, at just over $51,000.
That's compared to just $10,000 in cities like New Westminster, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows and the City of Langley.
The City of Burnaby, Vancouver's closest neighbour, came in at approximately $15,000 per new housing unit.
Vancouver and West Vancouver were seen as the two communities that faced the strongest amount of council and community opposition to new housing projects, while the City of Langley, Port Coquitlam and Pitt Meadows were the most welcoming.
Burnaby and Coquitlam were cited for having an agreement between city council and planning staff, creating an incentive to build.
Overall, no jurisdiction except the City of Langley was found to encourage development.
The survey was conducted in two periods in the fall of 2014 and the spring of 2016 and was distributed through industry associations.
The study authors say more work is needed to determine what consequences housing regulations have for housing markets and local economies.