May 5, 2020
Government Extends Temporary Layoff Period
On May 4, the provincial government announced that they have extended the temporary layoff period to 16 weeks. This aligns with the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit 16-week period – allowing employees to take full advantage of that program.
For information regarding temporary layoffs under the ESA, please visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/employment-standards/termination#laying-off.
UPDATED: BCUC Thermal Energy Systems Regulatory Framework Review
As previously mentioned, BCUC will be holding a workshop to discuss the ongoing Thermal Energy Systems Regulatory Framework Review. This workshop that was previously schedule for May 12, has been postponed until September 22, 2020 due to COVID-19.
Registration remains open and any registration that have already been made, will be transferred to September. To register for the workshop, either e-mail or call Commission Secretary at Commission.Secretary@bcuc.com or 604 660-4700.
Temporary 3-Month Extension of The Early Marketing Period Announced
The Superintendent of Real Estate released details regarding a three month extension to the nine month marketing period under Policy Statement 5 and 6. Under Policy Statement 17, which is effective from April 17, 2020:
- development property marketed under a disclosure statement filed under the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (“REDMA”) from April 17, 2020 to July 17, 2020 can be marketed for a 12-month period if the disclosure includes applicable extended dates as required by Policy Statement 17; or
- development property marketed under a disclosure statement filed under REDMA from June 17, 2019 to April 16, 2020 can be marketed for a 12-month period if an amendment is filed and the disclosure includes applicable extended dates as required by Policy Statement 17.
For more information about Policy Statement 17, please see:
This extension is only for the nine-month deadline and it requires a disclosure statement amendment to be filed and distributed. For projects that are currently between the nine and 12 month deadlines, where units cannot be marketed until a building permit and financing are obtained, and cannot get the building permit or financing because of the pandemic restrictions, this will not apply.
Ministerial Order allows local governments to hold electronic Public Hearings
On May 1, local governments were given the ability to conduct public hearings electronically and via teleconference during the COVID-19 pandemic by issuing Ministerial Order 139 under the Emergency Programs Act.
This Ministerial Order repeals and replaces the previously issued M083 from March 26, 2020 to address challenges raised by local governments regarding their ability to advance land development applications. The Order also encourages local governments to waive public hearings where permitted such as a proposed amendment to a zoning bylaw that is aligned with the official community plan.
For more information, read the full Ministerial Order here.
UDI Letter to the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness
On May 1, UDI wrote a letter to Minister Michelle Mungall, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness to illustrate the building sector sector’s role in economic recovery post COVID-19. Included are some suggestions on immediate steps that can be taken to help the building industry keep British Columbians employed and continuing to build the homes and office spaces our province needs.
See here for the letter.
April 21, 2020
BCUC Thermal Energy Systems Regulatory Framework Review
On April 9, members of UDI and CHOA met virtually with representatives from BCUC to discuss the ongoing Thermal Energy Systems Regulatory Framework Review. A workshop is also scheduled for May 12th, which is open to UDI members if you would like to provide feedback on your work with TES in BC.
For more information, you can review the background information or terms of reference for the project. To register for the May 12th session please, either e-mail or call Commission Secretary at Commission.Secretary@bcuc.com or 604 660-4700.
As mentioned previously, BCUC is also conducting a Municipal Energy Utility Inquiry, for more information on the project please visit the BCUC webpage.
Virtual Strata Meetings during COVID-19
As of April 17, a temporary change under the Emergency Program Act will allow B.C. strata corporations to hold meetings — including monthly annual general meetings — virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The change will help ensure strata councils can continue conducting necessary business while following the provincial health officer’s ban on gatherings of 50 or more people, per the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Stratas can choose their own form of virtual meeting but, if a computer-based option is selected, an alternative for strata members without a computer must be provided.
The full news release is available here.
April 7, 2020
Ministerial Order on Liability for Companies Operating as Essential Services
As we shared in our member update from March 26, Construction has been listed as an essential service by the Provincial Government. On April 2, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General also released a Ministerial Order stating that companies operating as essential services are not to be held liable for damages caused by exposure to COVID-19, provided that they are following the orders of the Provincial Health Officer.
Speculation and Vacancy Tax Information Update
The B.C. Taxpayer Fairness and Service Code has been updated and is now available online. For more information and to review all updates related to the Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT), please visit the provincial website.
March 10, 2020
Interim Business Property Tax Relief Program
On February 24, the Government announced legislation to allow municipalities to exempt portions of assessed value associated with major value increases due to development potential. This is intended to address the high tax burden on small businesses in high growth areas. However, the Province has left it to each municipality to pass a by-law defining what properties qualify. Feedback to date from municipalities indicates that they do not see this as a useful tool, and will likely not adopt bylaws under the amended legislation. In fact, letters have been sent to the Honourable Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and Metro Mayors regarding their concerns about the Province’s approach. As set out in the announcement, this is an interim measure. UDI will keep members updated on any future changes.
BCLI Builders Lien Act Consultation
As part of the BC Law Institute’s consultation on proposed changes to the Builders Lien Act (BLA), UDI submitted a letter outlining our support or concerns for some of the proposed changes. The BCLI is currently developing their final report and it is expected to be release later this year.
February 25, 2020
2020 B.C. Budget Highlights
Budget 2020 announcement, UDI was successful in achieving a change introduced to the Property Transfer Tax Act which includes an exemption from the Additional Property Transfer Tax for certain Canadian-controlled limited partnerships. Effective on a date to be specified by regulation, a new exemption from additional property transfer tax will be introduced for qualifying Canadian-controlled limited partnership in a manner more consistent with Canadian-controlled corporations. It will ensure that new housing developments are treated similarly irrespective of whether the development is being undertaken by a Canadian-controlled corporation or Canadian-controlled limited partnership. This will benefit many Canadian builders, who can obtain financing from foreign entities that do not have controlling interests in projects – without attracting the 20% Additional Property Transfer Tax for Foreign Entities.
The Provincial Government chose not to apply exemption rules of the Speculation and Vacancy Tax to the Additional School Tax. UDI is extremely disappointed in this decision. In order to balance the Budget, Government indicated it needed the revenue from this tax. This will further exacerbate the affordability crisis as it will cost more to build, resulting in less homes being constructed as government’s own projections indicate. UDI will continue to advocate for the Additional School Tax exemption on lands under development.
Numbers indicate that the overall property tax revenue is expected to increase an estimated $300 million each year for the next three years, which is inclusive of revenue from the Additional School Tax, Speculation and Vacancy Tax, and Foreign Buyers Tax- all of which add to the overall cost of homes for British Columbians.
B.C. recorded about 44,000 starts in 2019, however, housing starts are projected to drop to about 30,000 per year. Last year, the Province recorded 70,000 new immigrants, and these numbers are expected to remain consistent. As expected, the Budget reports that the overall value of home sales is anticipated to climb to 4-6% per year over the next three years. This is a clear indication of constrained housing supply impacting the price of homes in B.C. The Minister of Finance, Carole James recognized that, “the housing market is bouncing back.”
The Budget also noted a considerable increase in value of non-residential permits by 21.7% compared to the same period of 2018. Of this increase, industrial saw growth at 15.7%, commercial at 26.7%, and institutional and governmental segment at 10.3%. This is likely indicative of the shift of capital from residential to other asset classes.
More detail on the Provincial Budget can be found at this link.
February 11, 2020
Emergency Program Act Modernization
As noted in the December 23, 2019 Newsletter, Emergency Management BC (EMBC) released a discussion paper on Modernizing BC’s Emergency Management Legislation. UDI responded to it in a January 31, 2020 letter.
The focus of EMBC will be mitigating future emergency risks, which includes “… making sound decisions about where and how to build.” Under the proposals in the Discussion Paper, Local governments would have “… to give greater consideration of current and future risk for new development approvals in hazardous areas …,” and “… Require sustainable long-term mitigation measures when building and development is approved in hazardous areas.”
In our response to EMBC, we recommended that the Province “… provide direction and best practices to manage development in hazard areas,” and “… that our members be consulted by the Province and local governments as well as given early notice of potential changes in land uses, the definition/designation of new hazard areas and additional requirements.”
Legislation will likely be introduced during the Fall of this year, so new regulations can be in place by Spring 2021.
January 28, 2020
Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply & Affordability
In September 2019, the governments of Canada and British Columbia established an Expert Panel to address housing supply challenges in this Province. The panel includes President and CEO of Concert Properties, Brian McCauley, and has begun consultations to seek feedback and ideas from experts, academics, researchers, urban planners, urban economists, Indigenous peoples, municipal housing policy-makers and members of the public who are familiar with the housing challenges in B.C. and similar high-priced housing markets around the world. Experts, organizations and citizens are invited to share ideas on ways to address housing challenges in British Columbia and how all there levels of government can work together to address housing supply.
The consultations will be open until April 3, 2020. The panel will post an interim report of its findings from these consultations on its website in summer 2020, and provide a final report to the federal and provincial governments by the end of 2020. Get involved and send the Panel your thoughts on housing supply at https://engage.gov.bc.ca/housingaffordability/.
Corporate Beneficial Ownership Registry and Mortgage Brokers Act Review Consultations
On January 17, the Province announced “… public engagements on creating a central registry of company beneficial ownership, as well as modernizing mortgage broker regulation to guard against money laundering.”
The central registry would be used to improve access to information for tax and law enforcement authorities. As part of the consultations, the Government is seeking input on whether such a registry should be publicly accessible. For more information please see the consultation paper.
In terms of the Mortgage Brokers Act review, the Government is arguing the Act and regulations have “… not kept pace with evolving national and international standards in consumer protection, changes in the financial services market and emerging issues such as money laundering in the real estate market. For more information, please see the Mortgage Brokers Act Review Public Consultation Paper.
The Province is asking for comments for both consultations by March 13. UDI’s Real Estate Legal Issues Committee is reviewing both consultation documents. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Marissa Chan-Kent at 604.661.3033.
December 23, 2019
UPDATED: Building Code for Existing Buildings
Following a meeting with Building and Safety Standards Branch (BSSB) staff in November, UDI has written a letter with comments on the proposed Alterations code for Energy Efficient, Resilient Buildings. The letter includes recommendations to re-evaluate the implementation timeline, which is currently proposed to be in place in select municipalities by 2022 and fully implemented by 2024. We also raise concerns regarding how the proposed code would be triggered, unknown risks, costs and delays along with the need to apply the proposed code to the broader public sector ahead of privately owned buildings to develop capacity within the industry. We will continue to work with the BSSB on this initiative and will keep UDI members appraised of future developments.
Emergency Program Act Modernization
The Government has released a discussion paper on Modernizing BC’s Emergency Management Legislation. Emergency Management BC (EMBC) is seeking comments from stakeholders and the public by January 31, 2020 as Legislation will likely be introduced during the Fall of next year, so new regulations can be in place by Spring 2021. UDI will be responding to the discussion paper, which includes proposals that could impact members because a focus of EMBC is mitigating future emergency risks. This includes “… making sound decisions about where and how to build.” The Government proposes to:
- “Require Local Authorities, and the Province (through the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s subdivision approval authority in unincorporated areas) to give greater consideration of current and future risk for new development approvals in hazardous areas; and
- “Require sustainable long-term mitigation measures when building and development is approved in hazardous areas”.
If you have any comments or questions, please contact Marissa Chan-Kent at 604.661.3033.
Builders Lien Act
The British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) has issued a Consultation Paper on the Builders Lien Act and is seeking responses from stakeholders, including developers. BCLI has also provided an overview of the consultation paper as well. They are requesting comments by January 15, 2020. If you have any comments or questions please contact Marissa Chan-Kent at 604.661.3033. BCLI also has a website for the project.
December 9, 2019
BC Energy Step Code (ESC)
Reminder: On December 12, revisions to the B.C. Building Code will come into effect, which include a few changes and newly available options for meeting ESC requirements. The Part 9 residential changes include the option of using adjusted Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI) metrics or “… a percentage improvement above reference house in demonstrating compliance with annual space heating requirements.” For Part 3, there will now be separate TEDI and Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEUI) targets for regions outside of Southwestern British Columbia. There are also changes to incorporate the ESC in public-sector projects.
Shift – Open Technologies
The Vancouver Economic Development Commission and OPEN Technologies have developed Shift, which is an information tool for building industry professionals, manufacturers/suppliers and others to track municipal ESC policies to forecast “… the market shift from conventional to higher performance building products.” The Shift website includes information on the “Pledged Adoption Path of Metro Vancouver Municipalities” for the ESC.
November 25, 2019
Water Sustainability Act Section 11 Processing Update
As noted previously, Section 11 Approvals (Notifications for Changes in and about a Stream) under the WSA gave seen increasing delays in provincial processing times. Recently, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) has provided an update to industry that they expect to have cleared the backlog of applications within the next year. This is due in part to an increase in staffing capacity for the South Coast Region Branch, which processes the highest number of these applications annually. The Ministry has also issued a Guidance Document for proponents, advising on how to submit complete, high-quality applications, in an effort to further reduce processing times.
Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy
Under the Provincial CleanBC plan, a Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy is being developed. As part of the process, the Government is seeking comments from the public and stakeholders on how climate change is affecting them and their “… visions for how to build a resilient, climate-ready future.” The comment period is until January 10, 2020. You can participate through the Engage BC website, or through social media by tagging #ClimateReadyBC and #MyClimateStoryBC. Additional opportunities for public input will follow early next year, and the final Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy will be released later in 2020.
Energy Step Code (ESC)
Two studies have been released on the ESC website. The first is a Report regarding the impacts of the Energy Step Code in reducing carbon emissions in the operations of new buildings. The Report includes a review of some policy options to reduce emissions, including:
- Establishing a Greenhouse Gas Intensity Target in the ESC;
- Energy Efficiency Standards and the use of high efficiency heat pumps;
- Mandating mechanical cooling within the BC Building Code;
- Province-wide regulations such as the carbon tax and to increase the use of Renewable Natural Gas; and
- Removing barriers for low emissions buildings.
There is also a Costing study, which includes an examination of ten reports on the construction cost implications of the ESC, “… to better understand how the studies determine the cost of building to the BC Energy Step Code, rather than the base BC Building Code. It also makes recommendations for undertaking future research so that results are more easily compared across different studies.”
BC Building and Plumbing Code Changes
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has released changes to the BC Building and Plumbing Codes. These changes are designed to support the construction of more affordable homes across the Province and advance the goals set out in the CleanBC policy. For full details on the new changes please view the news release here.
New Land Title Forms
Significant amendments to the Land Title Act came into effect on November 15, 2019. As a result, new land title forms have been published and must be used for any new filings. Previous versions of forms will only be accepted if they were executed or e-signed before November 15, 2019.
New E-filing Directions from the Director of Land Titles reflect amendments to Part 10.1 of the Land Title Act and replace the previous Directors Requirements related to e-filing. A summary of the changes due to Part 10.1 amendments is available for review.
Parallel amendments to Part 7.2 of the Land Act affect select Surveyor General forms.
Two webinars will also be held on Web Filing, which will be introduced in early 2020. If you would like to participate, please register online for either the December 2, 2019 or December 17, 2019 session. Both will begin at 11am.
November 12, 2019
Building Code Changes
There are several upcoming revisions to the B.C. Building (BCBC) that will be effective on December 12 2019, including:
- “Changes to harmonize the BC Building Code with the National Building Code to provide greater flexibility for the construction of new secondary suites;
- Early adoption of the National Building Code requirements for encapsulated mass timber to enable the construction of 12-storey tall wood buildings in specific jurisdictions;
- Accompanying changes to the BC Fire Code are proposed and anticipated to available soon.
- New carbon monoxide detector and alarm requirements for stores, offices, classrooms, churches, and recreational facilities;
- Preliminary Energy Step Code requirements for hospitals, schools, community centres, and university/college classrooms have been introduced, and requirements for residential and office buildings have been refined, to support the CleanBC commitment;
- Increased requirements for lighting in recycling rooms; and
- Additional requirements for fire alarms and exits to increase safety on occupied roofs.”
The Building and Safety Standards Branch will publish more information and technical bulletins about the code changes on their website in the coming weeks. In the meantime, a description of the amendments and the rationale for the changes is available on their public review web page.
In terms of the BC Energy Step Code, the Province has provided two information documents. One for Part 9 buildings and the other for Part 3. For further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, please note that there is a 2019 public review of proposed changes to the 2015 National Building, Fire and Plumbing Codes and the 2017 National Energy Code. You can provide comments by December 23, 2019 at 4 p.m.
As part of the Government’s CleanBC climate strategy, they have released a Workforce Readiness Survey. It closes on November 22 at 11:59 p.m. The Workforce Readiness Survey is directed at “… Owners /CEOs and others involved with staffing, HR and/or skills training in companies involved in …” several sectors including buildings and infrastructure. The Province is seeking “… suggestions, ideas, and recommendations for advancing opportunities and addressing gaps / barriers to workforce and skills development related to BC’s clean economy and the Province’s CleanBC plan.” It is part of a CleanBC Workforce Readiness Plan Project. There is another survey aimed at the general public that closes on November 29 at 4:00 p.m. UDI encourages you to fill out the surveys.
The Province has also passed a new Climate Change Accountability Act. Under it, the “… government will be required to set an interim emissions target on the path to the legislated 2030 target – which is 40% in greenhouse gas reductions below 2007 levels. Separate 2030 sectoral targets will also be established following engagement with stakeholders, Indigenous peoples and communities throughout the province.” The legislation also requires the Province to establish an advisory committee for CleanBC and annually table an accountability report. The Government will also be able to establish targets for provincial public sector buildings.
UPDATED: Building Code for Existing Buildings
On November 5, UDI met with the Building Standards and Safety Branch regarding considerations for a building code for existing buildings. Members provided feedback on the impact on their businesses if a new code were brought-in, and considerations for the development of any new regulations. The need for clarity on specific triggers for new standards was emphasized, along with the potential need to build capacity in the industry. UDI will be submitting formal feedback to the BSSB, if you have any questions or comments that you would like to share, please contact Cassandra McColman directly.
October 29, 2019
UPDATED: Building Code for Existing Buildings
UDI will be consulting with the Building Standards and Safety Branch on November 5 regarding considerations for a building code for existing buildings. This is a preliminary meeting which will focus on energy efficiency and resiliency, as well as the broader scope of any code development. If you have comments that you would like us to share please send them to Cassandra McColman by November 3.
Accessibility legislation Framework Consultation
The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction is consulting with industry representatives regarding standards development for Accessibility Legislation. They have provided a background framework and will be meeting with UDI members on November 5. If you would like more information on this initiative or would like to provide comments on the framework, please contact Cassandra McColman.
Land Owner Transparency Registry (LOTR)
As noted in previous newsletters, the Province passed Bill 23, the Land Owner Transparency Act (LOTA) in May 2018. The intent of the legislation is to establish a Registry of the beneficial owners of all properties in BC. The Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia has been tasked with developing the Registry, and they have released the attached FAQ: 8 Key Facts About the Land Owner Transparency Registry. According to the Authority, “It is expected that filing requirements under LOTA will be brought into force in Spring 2020 …”. UDI will continue to keep members informed about their obligations with regard to LOTR over the coming months.
BCUC Application: Municipal Energy Utilities Inquiry
As mentioned in previous newsletters, UDI worked closely with the Commercial Energy Consumers Association of BC (CEC) to provide input on their submission to the BCUC Inquiry regarding the Regulation of Municipal Energy Utilities. See here for the CEC’s submission, as of October 24th. UDI will be writing a separate letter as an Interested Party to the BCUC and the province, outlining municipal energy utility issues that were not within the scope of the inquiry. To contribute, please get in touch with Jeff Fisher or Marissa Chan-Kent.
On October 23, MLA Todd Stone introduced the Assessment (Split Assessment Classification) Amendment Act, 2019. According to the Opposition, the private member’s bill would create a new commercial property sub-class that local governments can use to provide property tax relief for organizations (e.g. retailers) facing massive property tax increases based on the development potential.
October 15, 2019
Building Code for Existing Buildings
As noted in previous newsletters, the Province through its CleanBC initiative is committed “… to develop an Existing Building Code for energy efficient and resilient buildings by 2024.” The new Code will likely “… enable GHG reductions and increase life safety and resilience …” in existing buildings. The Province is organizing meetings with industry stakeholders at the end of the month regarding the initiative. The project has four phases:
Phase 1 (Prepare a Strategy) – 2019/2021
Phase 2 (Develop Codes and Standards) – 2021/2022
Phase 3 (Voluntary Implementation) – 2022/2024.
Phase 4 (Provincial Adoption) – 2024.
September 30, 2019
Development Approval Process Review (DAPR)
As noted in previous newsletters, UDI has been involved in the Provincial review of development approvals. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing process involved stakeholders from municipalities, builders and other groups. UDI had representatives on the Provincial Committee and several regional technical committees. The review began last December and the Report was released September 25, 2019. It includes several observations and recommendations, including:
- A recognition of the confusion created by having numerous and varied municipal process and rules;
- The need for an Application Best Practices Guide and checklists as well as a Model Development Procedures Bylaw;
- The need for triaging applications early in the process;
- Support for establishing municipal digital permitting systems – with potential provincial funding;
- A wariness of establishing mandatory timeframes for local governments – in part because municipalities do not control the whole review process (see last bullet regarding the Province below);
- The need for increased opportunities to delegate decision making to municipal staff;
- The need to enhance pre-zoning opportunities – although this would involve more detailed municipal Official Community Plans and Area Plans;
- A recognition that the public input process is ineffective, too late in the process, an enables NIMBY reactions to developments;
- The need to reduce the number of Bylaw readings;
- Two potential options for development finance tools – defining Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) in legislation, or eliminating CACs and replacing them with a Super Development Cost Charge (that would fund a wider scope of infrastructure);
- The need for more infrastructure funding from senior governments;
- Providing Regional Districts with the authority to have Subdivision Approvals Officers;
- Developing Model Preliminary Layout Approvals Letters for subdivisions;
- Being more flexible with how cash-in-lieu monies can be spent; and
- A recognition that Provincial ministries and agencies can improve their reviews – especially the:
- Ministry of Environment and Climate Change with regard to contaminated sites;
- Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development with regard to the Water Sustainability Act and the Riparian Areas Regulation;
- Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing with regard to earlier notice for newC. Building Codes;
- Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure with regard to development referrals within 800 metres of Provincial highways and the need for Latecomer Agreements; and
- BC Hydro, which needs to engage with proponents earlier in the process.
In the Report, the Province indicates that more consultation is needed regarding the DAPR recommendations, and that will occur in the next phase of the process. However, no timeframes are given for this. UDI will be meeting with provincial officials regarding the future of the DAPR Report.
13 B.C. Communities Lead the Way for Mass Timber Construction
Thirteen B.C. communities are leading the nation as they adopt innovative and safe mass timber technology for taller wood buildings up to 12 storeys.
The following communities, and the University of British Columbia, have signed on to become early adopters:
- City of North Vancouver;
- Township of Langley;
- Campbell River;
- Victoria; and
To be eligible to sign on as early adopters, local governments currently regulated under the BC Building Code need to have:
- support from their city council and the planning, building and fire departments;
- Level 3 certified building officials; and
- land use bylaws for buildings higher than six storeys.
September 16, 2019
2020 Allowable Rent Increase/Above Guideline Increases (AGI)/Privacy Guidelines
On September 4, the Provincial Government announced that the annual allowable rent increase for next year will be capped at 2.6%. As noted in previous newsletters, annual rent increases are now limited to CPI – not CPI + 2% as they have in the past.
As part of the announcement, the Government also indicated that they are working with LandLordBC to implement a recommendation by the Rental Housing Task Force to revise “… the process for applying for limited additional rent increases to ensure they [landlords] can pay for necessary maintenance and repairs to their buildings, and preserve good-quality housing for people throughout the province.” In the past, the AGI was limited to unforeseen repairs or maintenance. The new approach being developed will allow “… important capital investments …” to be made. The new system should be in place by next summer. However, “Landlords will be able to apply to recover costs incurred in the previous 18 months for major capital improvements.”
Also on September 4, LandLordBC released a statement about new Guidelines released by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) regarding “… what personal information landlords may collect from anyone seeking to enter into a tenancy agreement.” . There were concerns that the previous proposed recommendations would have negatively impacted the ability of landlords to conduct their business. LandLordBC has been working with OIPC, and is pleased with the new Guidelines.
BCUC Inquiry into the Regulation of Municipal Energy Utilities
The BCUC has established an inquiry to examine the regulation and issues of energy utilities affiliated with municipalities and regional districts. See here for the Regulatory Timetable for the Inquiry. UDI will be registering as an interested party in the inquiry and will be coordinating feedback through David Craig, Executive Director of the Commercial Energy Consumers (CEC), who will be registering as an official intervener. UDI members will work directly with David to provide evidence that the BCUC should take a wider view in terms of their regulatory powers on District Energy Systems.
As an interested party, UDI will also write a letter to the BCUC and the relevant ministries that will support the arguments that CEC will bring forward as informed by UDI input. This letter would primarily address the out-of-scope issues that have been raised regarding member’s interactions with municipalities on district energy requirements.
David has requested documentation from members that have raised concerns. Please coordinate all feedback directly to David and cc UDI staff (Jeff Fisher and Marissa Chan-Kent). The submission deadline for an intervener to provide comments is Thursday, October 24. As such, please submit feedback and relevant evidence to David by October 14.
Water Sustainability Act (WSA) Permit Response
UDI previously submitted a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRO), regarding delays in obtaining section 11 approvals for WSA permits. The Province responded with a letter outlining some of measures that are currently underway to address the current backlog of permits. UDI will continue to work with the Ministry on this issue and is seeking a meeting with staff. We will provide further updates when they are available.
Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia
On May 15, 2019, Premier John Horgan announced the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C., and appointed the Honourable Austin Cullen as Commissioner. UDI has recently written to Commissioner Cullen offering our support and providing UDI’s past submissions to Peter German and the Expert Panel on Money Laundering.
Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT)
On September 12, Minister Carole James held a press conference to announce that she will be meeting with mayors from municipalities where the speculation and vacancy tax (SVT) is in effect. The following technical briefing and news release was provided at the press conference. Minister James forecasted revenue of $185 million in 2019/2020 from the tax, which was set at 0.5% of the assessed value of a property in 2018 – and will rise to 2% for foreign owners and satellite families in 2019.
September 3, 2019
B.C. Energy Efficiency Standards – Webinars and Consultation
The British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources is proposing new and updated energy efficiency standards for residential windows, residential and commercial gas boilers, and computers and monitors. Webinars have been planned for each product type. Webinar details are as below:
Proposed Changes to Gas Boiler Standards: September 24 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Residential Gas Boilers – Regulatory Impact Statement
Commercial Gas Boilers – Regulatory Impact Statement
Proposed Computer and Monitor Standards: September 13 from 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Proposed Changes to General Service LED and SDDL: September 10 from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Public review and stakeholder consultation is open until October 4, 2019. Detailed information on the proposed changes can be found in the attached document or online at the Province’s Energy Efficiency Standards web page. If you would like to join any of the above webinars, please contact Marissa Chan-Kent or 778-846-2549.
August 19, 2019
Free BC Building Codes available online
On August 14, UDI was pleased to participate in a Provincial news conference where the Government announced that it will now be providing the B.C. Building Code, Fire Code, and Plumbing Code free online. This includes both the current, 2012 and 2006 codes, as well as the City of Vancouver’s Building and Plumbing By-laws. They can be accessed on the BC Publications website. It was also announced that the Government will be “… refunding the full purchase amount to anyone who bought an online subscription of the codes and offering a substantial refund for those who purchased a printed copy.”
Proposed Stage 13 CSR Amendments- Identification of Contaminated Sites
The Ministry of the Environment’s Land Remediation Section is proposing changes to the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) on the identification of Contaminated Sites. These changes are proposed to maintain alignment with the changes to the Environmental Management Act (EMA) that were approved in May 2019. The proposed amendments to the process for identifying contaminated sites are outlined in the Policy Direction Paper – Identification of Contaminated Sites.
Additional CSR amendments under consideration include:
- Revised methanol standard for soil protective of groundwater due to changes made to the degradation rate constant;
- Correction of typographical and transcription errors to substance names and CAS numbers in Schedules 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3; and
- Removal of Schedule 1.1, “Summary of Site Condition” from the CSR and placement of the form under a Protocol.
Two webinars (up to 1 hour in length) are being held by ministry staff next month, which will include a presentation and time for questions. Please use the links provided below to register for a session.
Tuesday, September 10 – 10:00 to 11:00
Tuesday, September 17 – 2:00 to 3:00
For questions about webinar registration, please contact Cindy Bertram at CindyBertram@telus.net
For questions about the content of the proposed amendments, please contact Kelli Larsen at email@example.com
BCUC Inquiry on Local Government Energy Utilities
On August 1, 2019, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) announced an Inquiry to “… explore the appropriate regulatory status, under the Utilities Commission Act (UCA), of utilities affiliated with municipalities and regional districts.” Under the Act, municipal district energy systems are exempt from BCUC oversight. However, the Commission is now seeking to determine how municipal systems, which involve third party companies, should be regulated.
Organizations have until September 12 to request online to participate as an intervener during the review. They can also request to be registered as an interested party to receive updates on the proceedings. There is also an option to provide comments to the Commission regarding the Inquiry, but they must be submitted online by October 24. The BCUC has setup a proceedings page for all the documents related to its review. This includes Order G-177-19, which established the Inquiry, and identifies the key questions and issues that the BCUC is seeking input on from organizations and the public.
UDI is organizing a meeting with members of its District Energy Committee to assess the options for participating in the review, as many builders have raised concerns regarding municipal district energy utilities.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact Marissa Chan-Kent at (604) 661-3033.
August 6, 2019
WSA Permit Update
Through work with the CHBA, UDI has learned that the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Operations is taking actions to address the backlog of Water Sustainability Act (WSA) Permit Approvals, some of which have been in process for over a year. UDI previously submitted a letter to the Ministry with recommendations to improve the WSA permit process for approvals and notifications. The Ministry has stated that it plans to re-assign staff from other regions, authorize overtime and increase funding to support additional resources to process applications in the lower Mainland region more efficiently. A review is also being considered to improve the notification process for smaller applications. If you have any questions or comments please contact Cassandra McColman at 604-661-3032.
Provincial Response: Prevention of Site Contamination from Soil Relocation
Following the submission of a letter to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy regarding their Final Policy Direction on the Prevention of Site Contamination from Soil Relocation, UDI received this detailed response from the Ministry. The response addressed questions raised by UDI members and clarified the Province’s position on several issues. If you have further questions or would like additional information please contact Cassandra McColman at 604-661-3032
BC Energy Step Code (ESC) Local Government Survey Report
In late July, BC Housing released the 2019 BC Energy Step Code Local Government Survey Report. The survey is conducted annually and provides details on how and when local government are implementing the ESC. This includes information on the policy tools municipalities are considering and/or using to encourage, incent and mandate the adoption of the BC Energy Step Code, as well as the barriers for local governments and builders.
Preliminary Strategic Climate Risk Assessment for British Columbia
On July 22, the Province released a Preliminary Strategic Climate Risk Assessment for British Columbia. The report is a high-level assessment of risks at the provincial level; although it includes a scalable climate risk framework that could be utilized at other levels. In the Report, there is an assessment of 15 provincially significant climate risk events. The Government has reviewed the likelihood and impact of those events in 2050s (2040-2059), and found:
- “The greatest risks to B.C. are severe wildfire season, seasonal water shortage, heat wave, ocean acidification, glacier loss, and long-term water shortage;
- Other risks that have the potential to result in significant consequences include severe river flooding and severe coastal storm surge, although these events are less likely to occur; and
- Nearly all risk event scenarios (except moderate flooding and extreme precipitation and landslide) would have major province-wide consequences in at least one category.”
This tool will be further refined by Provincial ministries and regional governments to assist them in assessing climate change risks and policy responses to those risks.
The Province has also released a brief Summary of the Report.
July 8, 2019
Pre-Budget 2020 Submission to the B.C. Finance and Government Services Committee
UDI’s focus ahead of B.C. Budget 2020 are recommendations to improve the tax measures introduced in Budget 2018, specifically UDI recommends that development lands be exempt from both the Additional School Tax and the increased 5% Property Transfer Tax based on the principle that these new measures negatively impact affordability for new homeowners and renters. UDI also continues to advocate for the development of purpose-built rental housing and is recommending new incentives for purpose-built rentals that could assist the Government in meeting its laudable objective of building 114,000 new social and rental housing units before 2027. UDI’s full pre-budget submission can be found here.
Mid-cycle changes to the British Columbia Building Code 2018 (BC Code)
The Building and Safety Standards Branch is conducting a public review of the following proposed changes to the BC Code:
- Design and Construction of Secondary Suites
- Energy Step Code for Large Buildings in Cold Climates and Public Sector Buildings
- Lighting of Recycling and Garbage Rooms
For more information about the proposed changes or to complete the survey, please visit our website. The online survey is available from June 28 to August 9, 2019.
The Building and Safety Standards Branch is also considering possible amendments to the Energy Step Code targets for houses and small residential buildings, with a focus on climate zones 5 and 6 (including Kelowna, Kamloops, and Prince George). These possible changes are still in development and will not be part of this public review. Information will also be available on the Energy Step Code website, as this work progresses in the coming months. For more information about possible Energy Step Code amendments for houses and small residential buildings, please email Building.Safety@gov.bc.ca.
In addition to the above noted changes, the proposed mid-cycle changes to the BC Code 2018 will include recent national revisions as well as some editorial corrections. For information about revisions to the National Code, please visit Codes Canada’s website.
If you have any questions about the proposed code changes or the survey, please email BSSB.firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 24, 2019
Property Transfer Tax (PTT) Update from Chair of UDI Taxation Committee
Over the past decade many members received audits from the Ministry of Finance on their declared values for PTT. As you may be aware, for development land PTT is due at the time of the taxable transaction, or registration date. Many transactions had closing dates 6-12 months, or more, past the negotiation date. The PTT department filed reassessments and audits against purchasers with the assertion we were in a rising market and that the value at the date of the taxable transaction was greater than the price paid. Many builders paid significant more tax than anticipated through this auditing process.
On the flip side, given that land value is down in several markets, for those purchasers closing on sites that may have historic negotiation dates, it may very well be reasonable that your declared value for PTT falls below your purchase price.
Over the past 2 years our industry has faced a piling on of increased taxes on development lands that is significantly increasing the costs of providing more housing options. We owe it to the market to keep costs in check as best we can, and not over paying your PTT is a good start. For more information, please contact UDI Taxation Committee Chair Paul Sullivan.
June 10, 2019
Ipsos Poll: British Columbians Demand More Housing Options
A new Ipsos public opinion poll finds British Columbians are concerned about a lack of housing options and want municipalities to do more to encourage housing diversity, fix approval processes and reduce taxes, fees and red tape. And British Columbians do not see governments making affordability better. Only one-quarter (26%) of residents think the action of governments (provincial and municipal) have improved housing affordability in British Columbia. The Ipsos poll, conducted for UDI May 7-15, surveyed 1,001 BC residents across the province.
In other study questions:
- 80% agree that ‘we need to approve more diverse housing options close to both existing and new transit stations/hubs’;
- 74% agree that ‘new taxes, fees and red tape on homebuilders are making housing even less affordable for renters and home owners’;
- 68% agree that ‘governments aren’t doing enough to encourage the construction of new rental housing.
British Columbia need to build differently. Moving forward, UDI will focus its advocacy on five core strategies to address British Columbia’s housing crisis:
- Build more housing options.;
- Build for transit;
- Ensure fair taxation on new homes;
- Get building faster; and
- Make rentals a reality.
May 27, 2019
Government Launches Public Inquiry into potential Money Laundering
The provincial government has announced it will hold a public inquiry into money laundering in B.C.’s economy. UDI welcomed the independent review to ensure prudent measures are taken to reduce any illegal proceeds of crime flowing through B.C.’s mainstream economy, including real estate. UDI is prepared to actively participate in the public inquiry, representing our members and helping to build confidence in B.C.’s economy. UDI members will be aware that we have provided recommendations to Mr. German and the Expert Panel during the course of their reviews and have supported the development of important measures such as the Land Owner Transparency Act (LOTA) and Condo and Strata Assignment Integrity Registrar (CSAIR), which are currently being implemented.
May 13, 2019
Province Releases Anti-Money Laundering Reports
On Thursday, Minister Carole James and Attorney General David Eby released two provincial government commissioned reports into how illegal proceeds of crime can flow through B.C.’s mainstream economy, including real estate. UDI has fully supported government efforts to date, including meeting with and providing recommendations to Mr. German and the Expert Panel on Money Laundering (Panel) during the course of their reviews.
The Panel used a first-of-its-kind in Canada economic model to conclude that a significant part of the money laundering flow is invested in real estate. The estimated impact on real estate transactions in 2018 was $5.3 billion (almost 5%). The Panel also noted that the most significant inflows of funds come from the United States.
It is critical to our members that the public has confidence in the regulatory framework and the enforcement of rules in the real estate sector, and as such UDI has already supported the development of important measures such as the Land Owner Transparency Act (LOTA) and Condo and Strata Assignment Integrity Registrar (CSAIR).
We maintain, when gaps in the federal and provincial regulatory regimes are identified, then those gaps should be closed. When illegal activity is believed to take place, then law enforcement agencies should investigate and take immediate and appropriate action. If the regulatory agencies and law enforcement bodies lack the resources to carry out their work, then they need to be suitably funded and appropriately coordinated.
It is widely expected that the provincial government will announce its intentions to proceed with a public inquiry later this week.
New Resources to Support the BC Energy Step Code
New resources are now available online to assist those using the BC Energy Step Code.
New Technical Bulletins
To help understand and apply the BC Energy Step Code requirements, three new Technical Bulletins have been developed:
- B19-01 – Complying with Step 1 of the BC Energy Step Code for Part 9 Buildings
- B19-02 – Step 1 in the BC Energy Step Code: Airtightness, Enhanced Compliance and Compliance Paths
- B19-03 – Guidelines for Energy Advisors – Setting Airtightness Values for Energy Modelling of Part 9 Buildings for Compliance with the BC Energy Step Code
Updated Part 9 Energy Compliance Reports
Updated (BC Building Code 2018) versions of the BC Energy Compliance Reports (Performance Paths for Part 9 Buildings) are also available. The Reports include:
- The Pre-Construction Report
- The As-Built Report
- The Instruction Manual for Energy Advisors
- The Compliance Report Calculator and Report Generator
Questions about the Bulletins and updated Part 9 Energy Compliance Reports can be directed to the Building and Safety Standards Branch at CodeQuestion@gov.bc.ca.
April 29, 2019
Legislative Session Resumes
After a two-week break, the spring 2019 legislative session resumes today in Victoria. The remaining 4 weeks of session ending May 30 are expected to be extremely busy with continued Budget Estimates and ongoing debate on eleven pieces of legislation, including specifically a bill UDI is following closely, the Land Owner Transparency Act. It is expected that Ministers James and Eby will release the findings of their money laundering in real estate reviews sometime in the next few weeks. It is also rumoured there could be new legislation tabled this week with proposed changes to overhaul B.C.’s employment standards and labour code.
2019 BC Land Summit: Collaborations and Connections
UDI is a proud sponsor of the BC Land Summit, which is being held between May 8 and 10. The Summit happens every five years and is the premier collaborative conference providing interdisciplinary education, professional development, training and networking opportunities for professional practitioners in fields related to land and land-use in British Columbia. It involves several industry associations, including:
- The Planning Institute of British Columbia;
- The Real Estate Institute of British Columbia;
- The Appraisal Institute of Canada – BC;
- The British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects; and
- The British Columbia Institute of Agrologists.
April 16, 2019
UDI Makes Anti-Money Laundering Recommendations to Government
Earlier this year, UDI representatives met with Mr. German and the Expert Panel on Money Laundering during the course of their reviews into potential money laundering activities in B.C. real estate and provided a presentation and a set of recommendations. On April 1, two reports on money laundering in B.C. were received by the provincial government. It is expected that the government will review both reports before making them public later this spring. UDI acknowledges the public concern regarding the potential of money laundering activities, fraud and tax evasion and as such, we have continually been supportive of government and law enforcement efforts to ensure that taxes are paid appropriately and that any potential illegal activity is thoroughly investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We maintain that if there are gaps in the regulatory regime, then those gaps should be closed. If illegal activity is taking place, then law enforcement agencies should investigate the activity and take immediate and appropriate action. If the regulatory agencies and law enforcement bodies lack the resources to carry out their work, then they should be suitably funded. It is critical to our members that the public has confidence in the regulatory framework and the enforcement of rules in the real estate sector. UDI’s AML letter and presentation can be found here.
B.C.’s Workers’ Compensation System Under Review
The formal review will look to, “To shift the workers’ compensation system to become more worker centred, the review will assess:
- the system’s policies and practices that support injured workers’ return to work;
- WorkSafeBC’s current policies and practices through a gender- and diversity-based analysis (commonly referred to as GBA+);
- modernization of WorkSafeBC’s culture to reflect a worker-centric service delivery model;
- the case management of injured workers; and
- any potential amendments to the Workers Compensation Act arising from this focused review.”
A report, including possible recommendations, will be delivered to government by September 30, 2019. There is no information yet on public and stakeholder engagement process.
April 1, 2019
UDI Letter on Above Guideline Increase (AGI) Formula
UDI has shared with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing our recommendations for a fair, simple and transparent AGI formula that provides certainty for rental providers and renters. The AGI process must be easy to understand for both tenants and landlords. The system should also be clear regarding what types of expenditures will be approved or not. This will ensure transparency, which is critical to reducing potential conflicts in the future. UDI also suggests that for the system to be fair, property taxes and utility charges that exceed CPI increases need to be recovered through the AGI mechanism. These costs are largely outside of the control of building owners, and fact are generally driven by government and public sector decisions.
Energy Step Code EfficiencyBC Program
Builders, businesses and homeowners have access to a new online hub for information, incentives and support on reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in new and existing homes and buildings – EfficiencyBC. It is a two-year program, funded by the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada and includes BC Hydro, Fortis BC, BC Housing and many local governments as partners. The site outlines the incentives and rebates available for residential and commercial new construction, as well as an expanded “Energy Coach” service.
Electric Vehicle Charging (EVC) Inquiry
As reported last December, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) is conducting an Inquiry into the Regulation of Electric Vehicle Charging Services. UDI was intervener in the proceedings. On March 22, 2019, the Commission issued a news release announcing that the Government has followed their advice. The Province passed a Ministerial Order allowing the BCUC “… to make electric vehicle (EV) charging service providers who are not otherwise public utilities, as well as landlords and strata corporations, exempt from Part 3 of the Utilities Commission Act, other than sections 25 and 38 which pertain to safety.” This means the costs of electricity and other costs can be passed onto users of EVC services.
Soil relocation process changes
Following consultation on a 2014 discussion paper and a 2016 intentions paper, the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy is proposing changes to the current soil relocation process. These changes will help by streamlining the legal regime, making the process more clear and transparent, and improving the ministry’s ability to carry out compliance verification and enforcement. The proposed amendments to the soil relocation process are outlined in the Final Policy Direction – Prevention of Site Contamination from Soil Relocation.
Earlier this year webinars were held to explain the proposed amendments to the soil relocation provisions in the Environmental Management Act and the Contaminated Sites Regulation. The webinars included a presentation and time for questions and answers. A link to the February 28, 2019 webinar recording has been posted on the BC Government website here.
Any questions about the soil relocation proposed amendments can be directed to email@example.com or 778-698-4873.
2019 BC Land Summit: Collaborations and Connections
UDI is a proud sponsor of the BC Land Summit, which is being held between May 8 and 10. The Summit happens every five years and is the premier collaborative conference providing interdisciplinary education, professional development, training and networking opportunities for professional practitioners in fields related to land and land-use in British Columbia. It involves several industry associations, including:
- The Planning Institute of British Columbia;
- The Real Estate Institute of British Columbia;
- The Appraisal Institute of Canada – BC;
- The British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects; and
- The British Columbia Institute of Agrologists.
March 18, 2019
B.C. Government Changes Continuing Professional Development requirements for Licensed Residential Builders
On March 6, the Province announced changes to the Homeowner Protection Act, to simplify the CPD requirement for Licensed Residential Builders in B.C. The Province undertook extensive consultation and these changes have been produced through input from the home building industry.
Key changes to the CPD program include:
- Active practice category for 20 points of CPD is removed
- 20 CPD points are required instead of 40
- Nominees may be able to carry up to 20 extra earned CPD training points over from one licence term to the next
- Licensees no longer have to take a majority of CPD points in a particular category (known as “category A” in the current regulation)
These changes will come into effect on July 1, 2019 and BC Housing has produced an information bulletin and FAQs to help builders learn about these changes. The updated BC Housing CPD Guide will be available for download on July 1, 2019.
Province Greenlights Building Taller with Timber
On March 13, the provincial government announced new changes to the BC Building Code regarding the use of mass timber technology that will allow the construction of taller wood buildings of 12 storeys – up from the current allowance of six. The provincial government invites municipal governments to voluntarily adopt these new policies. See here for the BC Government news release.
March 4, 2019
2019 B.C. Budget Released
On February 19, Finance minister Carole James presented Budget 2019, which UDI saw as a missed opportunity. UDI President and CEO Anne McMullin, responding to the provincial budget, by saying: “Sadly, Budget 2019 offers little to encourage more housing options for British Columbians and zero incentives for purpose-built rental homes.” The Budget also forecasts a dramatic collapse in provincial housing starts, including rental homes, over the next four years. While no new taxes were included in this year’s budget, it remains a missed opportunity to clarify the tax measures introduced last year, and provide more incentives for the creation of new homes across the province.
British Columbia Law Institute Consultation Response
The B.C. Law Institute requested feedback on the Consultation Paper on Common Property, Land Titles and Fundamental Changes for Stratas. UDI’s Real Estate Legal Issues Committee composed this letter in response. If you have questions, please contact Marissa Chan-Kent.
Condo and Strata Assignment Integrity Register (CSAIR)
Builders are now able to report information on assignments into SCAIR through their MyLTSA account at the Land Title and Survey Authority of BC (LTSA) website. The quarterly reporting period is January 1-March 31, and the deadline to file any assignments into the CSAIR database from that period is April 31. Please note that builders are responsible for collecting and reporting information about assignments of condos and other strata lots into CSAIR. More information for builders can be found here. The LTSA is also providing additional information designed to assist those navigating the system for the first time. More information is available here.
February 18, 2019
Bill 49- Professional Governance Act Intentions Paper Consultation
The Provincial Government has released its Intentions Paper regarding the proposed changes to the Professional Governance Act. These legislative changes will impact professional reliance governance and change the oversight for professional associations (regulatory bodies) in BC. UDI is looking for feedback on how these changes will impact our members in their work with registered professionals. If you would like to submit your comments or concerns please contact Cassandra McColman by February 27th.
Government Introduces Municipal Affairs and Housing Statutes Amendment Act 2019
The Province has introduced what appear to be a number of routine legislative changes, including proposed amendments to The Vancouver Charter, The Building Act, The Local Government Act, The Cultus Lake Park Act and The Resort Municipality of Whistler Act. Bill 3, Municipal Affairs and Housing Statutes Amendment Act 2019, can be viewed here.
Province Launches Broadway Subway Procurement
The planned Broadway Subway in Vancouver is moving forward with an invitation to bidders to submit their qualifications to design, build and finance the Millennium Line SkyTrain Extension to Arbutus. The Crown Coproration Transportation Investment Corporation (TI Corp) is delivering the $2.83 billion project on behalf of the Province, and is expected to start formal construction in 2020 with service commencing in 2025. For more information visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/broadwaysubway/
January 21, 2019
ADVOCACY ALERT: School Tax Application to 2019 Property Assessments
With the 2019 property assessments now available, there has been much confusion about how a number of the Province’s new taxes will be applied to development lands. UDI has drafted a memo for consideration regarding the inconsistent application of the School Tax to properties across the Province. In response to this issue, Burgess Cawley Sullivan (BCS) is bringing forward a mass appeal of the assessment of developments lands. We believe that a coordinated approach will yield the best results and are encouraging our members to consider joining this appeal.
Speculation Tax Declaration Period Open
Between January 18 and February 28, 2019 owners of residential property in areas subject to the speculation and vacancy tax (SVT) will receive a letter with instructions on how to register and complete the declaration form. Registrations can be completed online at the B.C. government’s website, and the deadline for complete all declaration forms in March 31, 2019. A full list of areas subject to the SVT can be found online.
December 10, 2018
Rental Housing Task Force Report
Like many of our members, we are waiting in anticipation for the recommendations and final report of the provincial Rental Housing Task Force. We expect these to be released in the coming days and will provide an update to members once the recommendations are made public.
Development Approvals Process Review (DAPR)
The Province has initiated a review of the local development approval process. This review will generate ideas about what is working, what is not working and potential solutions or opportunities to address efficiency and effectiveness of the development approvals process. This is meant to be a solutions oriented review to improve the overall processes. The review will occur over the winter / spring and will address all stages of the development approvals process used in the local government system, from concept to occupancy including but not limited to the public hearing process.
Work will be led by a Development Approvals Review Working Group (DARWG) which comprises executive-level representatives from a range of stakeholders including: local government, industry, non-profit organizations, academia and other relevant agencies. The Working Group will identify issues and opportunities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the local development approval process, and prioritize areas for analysis.
Analysis will be undertaken by four regional Technical Committees, which will be responsible for proposing implementable actions in response to challenges and opportunities identified by the Working Group.
UDI has representation on DARWG. If you have key issues and/or recommendations that you would like shared with the Working Group, please contact Cassandra McColman at 604.661.3032.
BCUC – EV Inquiry Phase 1 Report
As noted in previous newsletters, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) is conducting an Inquiry into the Regulation of Electric Vehicle Charging (EVC) Services. UDI has been an intervener in the proceedings. The Commission has released its Phase 1 Report. They are recommending “… that the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources issue an exemption with respect to BCUC’s regulation of EV charging services but that the BCUC retain oversight on safety.” This would allow the costs of electricity and other costs to be charged to users of EVC services. The BCUC is now moving forward with second phase of its Inquiry, which “… will focus on the regulatory framework for EV charging service providers that are have not been recommended for exemption (e.g. BC Hydro and FortisBC Inc.).”
UDI is organizing a Breakfast Seminar for early in the New Year on EVC services, which will include an update on the BCUC Inquiry.
Professional Governance Act
Bill 49, the Professional Governance Act has received Royal Assent. Under the Legislation an Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance will be established “… to ensure consistency and best practices are applied in the work of qualified professionals…”. The legislation will likely effect projects in riparian areas or those on contaminated sites. It could potentially impact all projects because it applies to engineers and other professionals.
The Government has released a Regulation Intentions Paper Consequent to the Professional Governance Act. UDI’s Environmental, Contaminated Sites and Building Code Committees are reviewing the Paper, so UDI can provide a response to the Government by the January 31, 2019 deadline for comments. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Cassandra McColman at 604.661.3032.
The Province is hosting a series of webinars in the coming weeks on the legislation and Intentions Paper:
- Dec 11th, 10:00 am – 11:30 am (PDT) Overview of new Act
- Dec 12th, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm (PDT) Regulation of Firms
- Dec 13th, 10:00 am – 11:30 am (PDT) Declarations of Competency and Conflict of Interest
- Dec 18th, 10:00 am – 11:30 am (PDT) Practice Rights
To register for a meeting, please click the appropriate link above. If you have any technical questions related to joining the meeting, please contact Christina Spicer. The presentation, questions and answers will be made available to participants after the sessions and upon request to those who were not able to attend.
Strata Assignment Registry and Policy Statement 16
Last month the Province released regulations under Bill 25, the Real Estate Development Marketing Amendment Act, 2018, which establishes a Condo and Strata Assignment Integrity Register (CSAIR). At the same time, the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate released a draft Policy Statement 16, which included related requirements under the CSAIR regime and transitional provisions. For additional information regarding Policy Statement 16, please see the Superintendent’s Information Bulletin and FAQ document.
On December 5, the Province released its “CleanBC plan to reduce climate pollution, build a low-carbon economy.” The plan is based on the Clean Growth Intentions Papers – to which UDI submitted a response letter earlier this year. The CleanBC plan and full report include several initiatives that will impact the building sector including:
- Improving the BC Building Code in three phases leading up to 2032 target of mandating a “net-zero energy ready” standard for new buildings;
- Adopting the Model National Energy Code for Existing Buildings by 2024;
- Increasing efficiency standards for heating equipment/windows;
- Providing incentives to make heat pumps more affordable;
- Building energy labelling;
- Mandating that the number of new zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) increase over three stages, so that by 2040, 100% of new cars will be ZEVs; and
- Expanding the electric vehicle charging services in homes, at work and through public fast-charging stations.
Energy Step Code (ESC)
The Province has been considering adjustments to the ESC. Revision 1, which primarily concerns the ESC, but also includes minor adjustments to provisions for radon, has been approved and will come into effect on December 10, 2018 as part of the new 2018 British Columbia Building Code.
Part 3 Buildings – Expanded to include all Climate Zones for three occupancy groups:
- C – Residential occupancies, with unique metrics for hotels/motels that reflect the heavier energy loads of these Group C occupancies;
- D – Business and personal services occupancies, with unique metrics for offices that reflect the lighter energy loads of these Group D occupancies; and
- E – Mercantile occupancies.
Part 9 Buildings – Metrics remain for all Climate Zones for Group C (residential) occupancies only, with amendments to further enable compliance and support improved building performance.
The Minister’s Order outlining the changes is available online, as is Technical Bulletin 18-08 which describes the changes to the BC Energy Step Code. In addition a plain-language explanation the BC Energy Step Code changes is available.
November 26, 2018
Voting Extended – 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform
The submission period for Electoral Reform Referendum ballots has been extended to December 7, 2018.
UDI is encouraging its members to vote and ensure their voice is heard. After careful consideration, the UDI Board of Directors has taken a position to Vote To Keep First Past The Post in the current referendum on electoral reform. UDI believes that the manner in which the referendum has been constructed is deeply flawed and beyond repair. Please take the time to become better informed before returning your ballot by mail or in person at a Referendum Service Office or Service BC Centre by the December 7 deadline.
Please note, your completed ballot must be RECEIVED by Elections BC by December 7th at 4:30 pm.
Finance Committee Report on the B.C. Budget 2019 Consultation
On November 15, 2018 the Committee released its report on the Budget 2019 consultation. Despite documenting many of the ideas from British Columbians and housing groups, urging the government to act to provide more affordable housing options (pages 45-49), the Committee recommendations fail to make any meaningful recommendations for consideration in the upcoming Budget 2019 (page 49).
Salmon-Safe BC Design Competition for Urban Development
Congratulations to DIALOG Design and Mountain Equipment Co-op, the two winners of the Salmon-Safe Design Competition for Urban Development. An honourable mention was given to the North Shore Rain Garden Project submission. To read more about these projects, please visit the Design Competition’s website.
BC Fire Code
UDI received the following information from the Provincial Building and Safety Standards Branch.
“The BC Fire Code 2018 is effective December 10, 2018. The BC Fire Code is based substantially on the model National Fire Code of Canada. The National Fire Code 2015 adopted 77 technical code changes and BC adopted most of them into the BC Fire Code 2018. For more information about the changes introduced in the National Codes 2015, please visit the National Research Council of Canada’s website.
For more information about the BC Fire Code 2018, please visit our website. Online resources include:
- Summary of changes
- 2018 Edition of the BC Fire Code Bulletin
- Fire Safety for Construction and Demolition Sites Bulletin.
To purchase the online version of the BC Fire Code 2018, please visit BC Codes. The print version is expected at a later date, and code users will be notified when it becomes available.”
Public Review – Proposed Changes to National Codes 2015
In addition to the above, the Building and Safety Standards Branch also provided the following information on the public review of the National Codes.
“You are invited to review proposed changes to the National Codes 2015. A public review is open from November 7, 2018 to January 4, 2019. As the BC Codes are substantially based on the National Codes, this is your opportunity to provide input to shape the future of codes. Please visit their website to review proposed code changes and provide your comments.
For More Information
- For code interpretation questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org;
- For general questions about code adoption, please email email@example.com; and
- For information about code products and pricing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
UDI’s Building Code Committee will be reviewing the proposals. If you have any comments or questions, please contact Cassandra McColman at 604.661.3032.
November 13, 2018
Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR)
On November 5, the Government introduced Bill 52, the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, 2018. If passed, the legislation is intended to:
- Reinstate one zone for all ALR land throughout the Province;
- Limit new houses sizes to 5,400 square feet in the ALR, “… except through application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) in cases where it would support farming; and requiring an ALC approval of any additional residences in the ALR to curb non-farm development;”
- Reduce the dumping of construction debris, toxic waste and other fill in the ALR through increased penalties.
For more information, please see the Provincial Government’s news release.
Strata Assignment Registry
On November 5, 2018, the Provincial Government released regulations under Bill 25, the Real Estate Development Marketing Amendment Act, 2018 which received Royal Assent on May 31, 2018. Under the regulations a Condo and Strata Assignment Integrity Register (CSAIR) is being established, so the Government can collect information that will be shared with tax authorities when assignments occur. Under the regulations, developers will be expected, as of January 1, 2019, to:
- “include terms and a notice in their contracts to inform buyers of the new collection and reporting requirements;
- collect information, including the terms of the assignment and the name and social insurance number or business information of the parties to the assignment; and
- report this information in the online register.”
UDI has supported this initiative as it will improve transparency, increase confidence in the homebuilding sector and ensure that appropriate taxes are paid. We are also pleased that the Government reduced duplication in its information gathering by focusing on assignments – not all presales. The information on the CSAIR will also only be shared with government agencies.
In terms of the transition provisions, “If a pre-existing purchase agreement provides that an assignment of the purchase agreement requires the consent of the developer, the developer may consent to the assignment only if that developer first makes a reasonable effort to collect, from each proposed party to the assignment agreement, assignment information and records.”
UDI’s Real Estate Legal Issues Committee is now reviewing draft Policy Statement 16 that has been issued by the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate, which includes related requirements under the CSAIR regime and transitional provisions. The Superintendent will be requiring disclosure statements filed before January 1, 2019 for development properties that will still be marketed on or after January 1, 2019 to be amended to conform to the regulations. This must be done by January 1, 2019.
UDI be hosting a Breakfast Seminar for members in the coming months regarding the Registry and their obligations under the new regulations. For more information, please see:
- The Government Press Release;
- Background information on the CSAIR; and
- News & Notices from the Superintendent of Real Estate.
B.C. Building Code Update 2018
The following municipalities have released information on the implementation of the 2018 British Columbia Building Code with an effective date of December 10, 2018:
BC Housing will also be holding a series of webinars on the upcoming changes. For more information and to register, please visit BC Housing’s website.
October 29, 2018
Bill 45 – Speculation and Vacancy Tax
On October 16 Finance Minister Carole James introduced the much-anticipated legislation for the Government’s Speculation Tax first announced in February’s 2018 Budget. Subsequently on October 18 the Minister of Finance and B.C. Green Leader announced amendments to lower the tax rate for out of province Canadians to 0.5% (same rate as British Columbians) and an agreement to target revenues raised by the tax to affordable housing projects in the areas where the taxes are collected. For full details review the Government’s updated website and FAQ.
Despite the proposed amendments, UDI remains concerned that the tax will still target British Columbian and out of province Canadian taxpayers, and capture regions more heavily reliant on seasonal residents like the South Island, Nanaimo and the Central Okanagan. However, UDI is appreciative the Ministry of Finance addressed some concerns from UDI and other stakeholders by putting legislative exemptions in place to broadly protect the development of land for new housing. UDI worked extensively with Finance on this piece to demonstrate the potential unintended consequences of the tax on affordability, and the Government’s inclusion of exemptions for lands under development is an important recognition by government that taxes, fees and charges on development lands contribute to the increased cost of building new homes. As 26% of the cost of a new home can be directly attributed to government fees and charges, UDI will continue to work proactively to urge the B.C. government to act in Budget 2019 to apply similar exemptions for the new school tax and other increased property taxes on development lands, that will otherwise be passed on to eventual home buyers and renters.
Better Buildings BC Incentive Program Launch
At the October 10th UDI Breakfast Seminar on New Incentives for Energy Efficient Buildings, the Provincial Government launched its Better Buildings BC: The Net-Zero Energy-Ready Challenge Program. This is an incentive program and juried competition designed to support, promote and celebrate the design and construction of net-zero energy-ready buildings. The program provides incentives to builders and developers of Part 3 multi-family, commercial, and institutional buildings that are designed to achieve the top tier of the BC Energy Step Code (or the Passive House Standard). The Province is offering both design and construction incentives. Criteria for the competition include:
- Energy & Emissions Performance;
- Cost Competitiveness;
- Site and Project Aesthetic; and
- Environmental and Social Wellbeing.
Applicants must submit Expressions of Interest by 11:59pm on November 30, 2018.
For more information, please go to the Better Buildings BC website.
At the Breakfast, the City of Vancouver also outlined its Zero Emission Building (ZEB) Tools, which include:
- Up to a 5% floor space increase to offset ZEB cost premiums;
- ZEB cost premiums being included in pro-forma evaluations for rezonings; and
- Director of Planning discretion to relax zoning and policy requirements.
Tools are available until Dec. 2025. For more information please go to vancouver.ca/zebtools.
The City of Vancouver also has a net zero incentive program for low-rise buildings. Each eligible project can receive $10k to $30k+ per project, depending on the scope, size and level of innovation. This is to cover both in-depth learning and research from leading projects, as well as offset some upfront incremental costs to achieve a near-zero standard.
Finally, the Breakfast included a presentation on the Zero Emissions Building Exchange – a collaborative platform that strengthens the public, private and civic capacities for zero emission buildings through dialogues, project tours, curated research, training and demonstrations.
October 15, 2018
B.C. Pre-Budget Submissions
On behalf of our members, UDI has submitted our 2019 pre-budget recommendations to the Minister of Finance and the Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. Our focus for B.C. Budget 2019 are recommendations to improve the housing tax measures introduced in Budget 2018, and proposed new incentives that could assist the Government in meeting its laudable objective of building 114,000 new social and rental housing units before 2027.
October 1, 2018
Real Estate Industry Reviews
On September 27, 2018, the Province announced two probes into the Real Estate Industry:
- A Ministry of Finance Expert Panel on Money Laundering in Real Estate, which “… is designed to uncover the nature, and if possible, the extent of money laundering in real estate and make improvements to market manipulation and abuse policies, procedures and practices within the broader real estate industry in British Columbia.”; and
- Part two of the Attorney General’s money laundering review by Peter German, which will focus on:
- “Links between real estate activity and money laundering in B.C. casinos, including the scale and patterns of real estate activity with potentially fraudulent or illegal transactions by casino patrons;
- Money laundering in the real estate sector connected to criminal enterprises in B.C. or elsewhere, including analysis of the extent of the problem;
- The use of lawyers’ trust accounts to mask sources of funds in real estate transactions;
- Money laundering in the construction industry, including abuse of builders’ liens;
- Any other conduct in which there is an identifiable link between organized crime and real estate transactions in B.C.; and
- Connections between organized crime and money laundering in the horse racing and luxury car industries.”
Final reports for both are anticipated in March 2019. UDI will be seeking opportunities to meet with the Expert Panel and Peter German.
Land Owner Transparency Act (LOTA) White Paper
As noted in our June 26th Newsletter, the Government released a Land Owner Transparency Act White Paper. Their intent is to establish “… a new, publicly accessible registry of who owns real estate in British Columbia.” Under the proposed legislation, the Province would establish a registry of beneficial ownership information, which would be shared with the law enforcement and tax agencies as well as the public. UDI’s Real Estate Legal Issues Committee provided the attached response to the proposals, and will be seeking additional consultation from the Government. UDI is also organizing a Breakfast Seminar on LOTA.
Rental Housing Task Force Recommendation
On Wednesday, September 26, the Provincial Government accepted the recent recommendation made by the Rental Housing Task Force to change the allowable maximum rent increase formula. The recommendation is to change the maximum rent increase formula, from the current formula of inflation plus 2%, to inflation only, which would remove the automatic 2% yearly increase (with TBD provision to apply for an additional increase if formula would not cover maintenances and other costs incurred). This means that the 2019 maximum allowable increase will roll back from 4.5% to 2.5%. This policy change comes into effect on January 1, 2019. See the Premier’s and Minister of Municipal Housing’s news release here.
UDI has expressed concern and disappointment in the adoption of this seemingly hasty and short-sighted recommendation that lacks economic evidence to substantiate this significant change. Furthermore, the steadily increasing costs faced by rental providers is well documented – see Landlord BC’s analysis – and is in stark contrast to the rationale provided by the Rental Housing Task Force to justify this recommendation. UDI’s main concerns with the implementation of this recommendation include:
- Making important improvements unaffordable as Rental Housing Providers can no longer recover these costs through rents;
- The onerous bureaucratic process to apply for any additional increases beyond CPI (as seen in Ontario and Manitoba);
- Some purpose built-rental projects that were in the planning stages will either be delayed or shelved entirely, as they will be financially unviable.
The Goodman Report has compiled information on the significant volume of rental projects that are currently underway that will be at stake with the adoption of this recommendation. The uncertainty and cost burden on Rental Housing Providers that will result from the enactment of this recommendation will inevitably deter, delay or cancel the building of new rental projects. UDI’s Rental Housing Committee will be meeting this week to discuss our response and next steps.
Maximum Allowable Rent Increase Set for 2019
Based on the B.C. Consumer Price Index and the established policy for rent increases in B.C., the government has confirmed the maximum annual allowable rent increase will be 4.5% in 2019. UDI supports the government’s decision to respect the 2%+CPI annual increase for 2019, and has made recommendations to the Rental Housing Task Force to protect the formula moving forward, as the major cost-drivers for landlords have more than exceeded the maximum allowable increases for many years. UDI is working with our Rental Housing Committee and other key stakeholders to share our concerns to government that further regulatory changes, including a potential departure from the 2%+CPI formula, would undermine private sector investment in new and existing rental housing. For more information please contact Rob MacKay-Dunn.
Provincial Review of Municipal Development Approvals Process
UDI applauds Minister Robinson’s announcement (25 min mark) of a comprehensive review of the antiquated development approvals process, with a key objective of generating new ideas to promote efficiency and effectiveness. In her annual keynote to UBCM delegates from across the province, the Minister highlighted the need to work with all stakeholders, to identify unnecessary barriers and complexities that create bottlenecks to approvals, while ensuring standards and community needs are being met.