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Provincial News

January 1, 2000

October 19, 2021

Existing Buildings Renewal Strategy 

As noted in previous newsletters, the Ministry of Housing has been “… developing an Existing Buildings Renewal Strategy that provides a path for today’s buildings to become more energy and water efficient, cleaner, and safer for British Columbians during events like earthquakes, wildfires, wildfire smoke, heat waves, and floods.” 

The Branch is currently conducting a number of engagement webinars to obtain feedback on what steps they can take to improve existing buildings. The first webinar occurred on September 28. The focus was on flood resilience. The second was on water conservation, which took place on October 6. Please see the attached slides for the flood resilience and water conservation presentations. There will also be five upcoming engagement sessions (please see below):  

Topic  Date 
Existing Buildings – Wildfire risk  Tuesday October 19th, 2021 
Existing Buildings – Energy and carbon, regulations  Wednesday November 3rd, 2021* 
Existing Buildings – Overheating and air quality  Thursday November 4th, 2021 
Existing buildings – Energy and carbon, supporting measures  Tuesday November 16th, 2021*  
Existing Buildings – Integrating mitigation and adaptation   Thursday November 25th, 2021 

The Branch will continue to engage with key stakeholders into 2022 as they develop the Existing Buildings Renewal Strategy based on feedback received through the formal engagement in Fall 2019 and Fall 2021. UDI provided feedback to earlier consultations on this initiative in December 2019 (please see the attached letter). If you have any questions or comments, please contact Lily Shields-Anderson at 604.901.1948. 

 

Groundwater License Deadline 

The Province has sent out a reminder that “Only six months remain for some groundwater users to apply for a water license.” This applies to “… those who were using groundwater from a well or dugout on or before February 29, 2016, for non-domestic purposes, such as irrigation, commercial or industrial use.”  They also note that “There may be significant consequences for your business if you miss the March 1, 2022 deadline to apply for an existing use groundwater license.” Those who have not applied by the deadline, will become unlicensed and will no longer be able to use groundwater after March 1. Please see the Information Bulletin on the issue. You can apply for the license here. 

 

BC Housing: Fire and Life Safety Fundamentals Guide 

BC Housing has released a Fire and Life Safety Fundamentals Guide to outline the application of the BC Building Code fire and safety requirements. The guide is for residential builders, architects, engineers, consultants and other stakeholders to better understand and implement the requirements of the Building Code. Key concepts include: 

  • Fire and Life Safety Risk Quantification; 
  • Fire Containment; and 
  • External Fire Spread. 

Other fundamental concepts include building characteristics, occupancy, fire compartmentation, and spatial separation. You can find the guide on the BC Housing website or linked here

 

Building Excellence Research & Education Grants 

The 2022 Building Excellence Research & Education Grant application intake is now open. This program encourages new research and education to help improve the quality of residential construction and enhance consumer protection for buyers of new homes in British Columbia. Industry and consumer organizations, education providers, housing sector organizations or associations, and independent researchers are encouraged to identify projects and can apply for up to $30,000 in grant funding. 
 
For more information, please visit the BC Housing Building Excellence Research & Education Grants webpage. The deadline to apply for the Building Excellence Research & Education Grant is 4:00 pm, January 14, 2022. 

If you have any questions, please email BuildingExcellence@bchousing.org. 


 

September 21, 2021

Additional School Tax (AST) Case Appealed by Government 

As noted in a September 2nd member alert, under the leadership of Farris LLP and Ryan ULC (formerly Burgess Cawley Sullivan) UDI was successful in obtaining a ruling from the Property Assessment Appeal Board (PAAB) on how the AST should be applied to market and affordable rental housing sites. The Board found that charging the tax on affordable units was “counterproductive” to the purpose of the tax – improving housing affordability. They exempted a Musqueam Capital Corp. development site from a 2019 $2.2M AST levy. Please see the original updates from the Farris and Ryan on the PAAB decision. Both the Province and BC Assessment have now appealed the decision. UDI will keep members informed of the progress of this important case.  

 

2022 Annual Allowable Rent Increase set at 1.5% 

On September 8, the Provincial Government announced that B.C.’s maximum allowable rent increase for 2022 will be 1.5%. This will mark the end of the provincial residential rent freeze however, rent increases cannot take effect before January 1, 2022. For more information on rent increases, please visit the B.C. government website

 

Understanding Risk British Columbia (URBC): Challenges and Opportunities Associated with Development in Hazardous Areas in BC  

Risk and resilience ratings for property are coming. Are you concerned about natural hazard risk, the climate crisis and the impacts it will have on your acquisitions strategies, portfolio of property, and the overall stability of the real estate market in Southwest BC? 

The URBC session for 2021 will be hosted on October 7th, 2021 as a regional resilience roundtable to bring together a focused group of key collaborators and stakeholders with a narrowly scoped theme: challenges and opportunities associated with development in hazardous areas.  A professionally facilitated and solutions-oriented roundtable dialogue will lead to: strengthened connections across sectors, rough consensus and furthering of actions that will reduce risk and build resilience in Southwest BC.  

Since 2017, the URBC community of practice has asked for further engagement with the developer community. This is an opportunity for those with expertise in the building/development/finance/legal sectors to contribute their knowledge and expertise to advancing resilience building actions and the incentivization agenda in BC and better understand what it will mean for their business case as public risk and resilience ratings on properties start to become commonplace.  

 For more information and to register, click here


 

September 7, 2021

Local Governments Receive Grants to Streamline Housing Approvals  

The Province has award $15 million in grant funding to 43 municipalities across the B.C. to streamline their development approvals processes. Administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM), this funding will go towards process improvements ranging from upgrading online platforms and developing application portals to conducting internal reviews of current approvals.   

UDI provided letters of support to several applications and there were 13 successful Lower Mainland municipalities who will be receiving funding. We will continue to work with all of our local government partners to streamline the approvals processes and support the creation of more new homes.  

For more information, please see the Provincial news release


 

July 27, 2021

BCFSA Integration Update

As of August 1, 2021, the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (“OSRE”) and the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (“RECBC”) are expected to complete their integration into BC Financial Services Authority (“BCFSA”). Currently, BCFSA has four pillars of responsibility: pension plans, mortgage brokers, financial institutions (including credit unions, insurance, and trust companies), and the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation (“CUDIC”). In addition to its current accountabilities, upon completion of the integration, BCFSA will have authority over real estate education and development marketing as well as discipline responsibilities for licensed and unlicensed real estate activity. BCFSA will also have rule-making authority governing the conduct of real estate licensees.

Please note that as of August 1, 2021, all real estate development payments and cheques must be issued to BC Financial Services Authority. For developers, lawyers and others who have submitted filings to OSRE in the past, BCFSA electronic funds transfer instructions will follow by separate email for payments directly from your financial institution.

As part of the integration process, the general contact information will also change. From August 1, 2021, the BCFSA address and phone number will be:

BC Financial Services Authority
600-750 West Pender Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6C 2T8

Phone number: (604) 660-3555
Toll free: (866) 206-3030

The general email address will also change to info@bcfsa.ca and the website will change to: www.bcfsa.ca

Staff email addresses will be changing from @gov.bc.ca to @bcfsa.ca.  Emails sent to @gov.bc.ca will not be forwarded to BCFSA after August 1.  Staff telephone numbers will remain the same as before. 

 

Additional Mass Timber Investments Made by the Province

Building on the previous investments in the Mass Timber Demonstration Fund, the Province has invested an additional $2 million to re-open the program for a second intake. This investment will support applicant with costs associated with the design, development, permitting and construction required for a mass timber project. Projects can apply for up to $500,000 each. Expressions of interest will be accepted between July 16, 2021, and Oct. 8, 2021. Successful applicants will be notified by December 2021.

This second intake following the initial $4.2 million investment made earlier this year, which will support eight mass timber demonstration projects and four research projects in B.C. UDI is a member of the Mass Timber Advisory Council, which support the work of the Mass Timber Demonstration Program.

 

Homeowner Education – Maintenance Matters Series

BC Housing’s free Maintenance Matters bulletins and companion videos provide practical information on maintaining multi-unit residential buildings, including townhouses, low and high-rise residential buildings. The series is for homeowners, strata councils, maintenance managers, housing co-operatives and building owners. UDI members may find this information helpful to share with strata councils, as it covers a variety of topics including:

  • Managing internal water systems
  • Preventing water leaks
  • Residential windows and exterior doors
  • Avoiding exhaust duct problems
  • Replacing podium waterproofing
  • Maintaining your roof
  • Decks and balconies

 

July 13, 2021

Additional Rent Increases and New Rental Tenancy Regulations Take Effect

On June 30th, the Province announced its new Additional Rent Increase (ARI) framework and residential tenancy regulations which came into effect at the start of this month. 

The ARI was developed to address the costs of necessarily capital expenditures and upgrades for rental buildings. Since the annual rent increase formula was limited to CPI in 2018, UDI has advocated for changes, which would allow rental providers to recover the costs of necessary capital expenditures and reinvest in their buildings. 

The ARI will be calculated based on the amount of eligible capital expenditures divided by the number of dwelling units, then amortized over a 10-year period (120 months).

The additional rent increase is capped at a maximum of 3% per year (plus the annual rent increase). Any amount exceeding the cap can be rolled over to the second and third year. These increases are in addition to the annual allowable rent increase amount based on CPI, however they must be provided together to the tenant. Online calculators will be made available to help calculate the potential ARI. 

In addition, last week new rental regulations came into effect requiring approval from the Residential Tenancy Branch to end a tenancy for the purposes of renovation or repair. This will apply to landlords who need to complete necessary renovations or repairs, and need to end a tenancy because the work can only be completed by having the rental unit vacant for an extended period of time.

Landlords will need to:

  • Ensure they have all necessary permits and approvals required to complete the work  
  • Apply to the RTB for an Order of Possession 
  • Submit all necessary evidence  
  • Note: If a landlords intends to end the tenancy for renovations or repairs to more than one rental unit in the same building, a single application must be made for all tenancies. 

The intention of this new provision is to prevent tenancies from ending unnecessarily, while ensuring that building owners can still carry-out necessary repairs and renovations to preserve the life span of the building. 

For more information on both of these changes, you can read the full news release here.

 

Office of Mass Timber Implementation Hiring

The Office of Mass Timber Implementation (OMTI) is hiring for the position of Technical Advisor. The Technical Advisor will support efforts to enhance and advance the system of technical rules and tools as OMTI seeks to broker strategic solutions within the complex building regulatory system to remove unwarranted barriers and expand complementary technical resources to support mass timber construction. More information can be found at: https://bcpublicservice.hua.hrsmart.com/hr/ats/Posting/view/78122

For specific position-related enquiries, please contact Jarrett.Hutchinson@gov.bc.ca.


 

June 29, 2021

Canada-British Columbia Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability

As noted in previous newsletters, the Federal and Provincial governments established an Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability in September 2019. They have released their Final Report – Opening doors: unlocking housing supply for affordability, which provides important data and insights regarding the housing supply conundrum that has been increasing housing costs for buyers and renters in B.C. – especially in the fast growing urban regions.

The Panel makes it clear that “Simply put, British Columbia needs to build the many additional homes required to adequately house a growing population and economy, while tempering the rapid home price and rent increases many of the province’s communities have become accustomed to.” They also warn that “Mounting financial barriers to renting or purchasing homes in B.C. present risks for economic growth and employment, while aggravating wealth inequalities.” They also see a larger role for the Province vis-à-vis municipalities, stating:

“… many of the most significant policy levers specifically pertaining to the supply of housing belong to local governments, which, for a number of reasons outlined in this report and elsewhere, face important barriers—notably political—preventing them from making greater progress toward a more abundant housing supply. We therefore believe that it falls on the provincial government, which is ultimately responsible for local governments, to enact many of our most impactful recommendations.”

 The panel also provides 23 recommendations, including:

  • The imposition of “… statutory time limits to all stages of the property development process, municipal or other, for all types of development;”
  • The Province mandating more robust Housing Needs Reports with “… an ‘affordability adjustment’to account for past undersupply …,” and using the anticipated growth numbers in the Reports to establish binding targets for local governments;
  • The Province requiring more frequent updates to official community plans (OCPs) and zoning bylaws updates to reflect the OCPs;
  • A Provincial review of OCPs and ensuring that provincial priorities be reflected in the documents – including the need for housing targets and pre-zoning around transit stations;
  • Linking senior government infrastructure investments to increased density;
  • A Provincial review of the Public Hearing process;
  • A “Provincial policy review to consider tying development approvals to housing targets;”
  • Developing “… a province-wide digital development permitting system designed to meet local government and industry needs in a streamlined, timely and cost efficient fashion;”
  • Development related infrastructure obligations being shared with the industry much earlier (e.g. “… during the official planning process, or alongside Housing Needs Reports);”
  • The phasing out of community amenity contributions, “… while expanding the definition of development cost charges …;”
  • “… a full review of local government revenue sources and spending responsibilities.”
  • Creating “… a municipal housing incentive program rewarding the creation of net new housing supply wherever demand occurs;”
  • Several measures to expand the supply of community and affordable housing;
  • Improving coordination among and within all orders of government;” and
  • Amending tax policy and other policy measures to ensure “… more equitable treatment of renters and homeowners.”

In addition to the main report, Panel commissioned several important studies:

 

Ministry of Environment and Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy

On June 9, the Government released its draft Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy, which is intended to strengthen B.C.’s “… capacity to anticipate and respond to impacts from climate change.” It follows the 2019 Preliminary Strategic Climate Risk Assessment, noted in previous newsletters that identified the greatest climate change risks facing the Province.

The draft Adaptation Strategy includes a number of Actions for 2021/2022, including:

  • Expanding “… community planning and disaster risk management through enhanced use of climate data;”
  • Improving climate change monitoring and forecasting;
  • Initializing work on a C. Flood Strategy and a Watershed Security Strategy; and
  • Assessing climate risk on public sector buildings.

They are also seeking public input on a number of proposed actions for 2022-2025, including:

  • Having a climate change lens for future legislation, policies and programs;
  • Developing educational resources for engineers, planners and other professionals;
  • Expanding “… provincial, Indigenous and local monitoring networks for stream flow, groundwater, snow, glaciated areas, agricultural areas, climate, ocean conditions, ocean acidification, and ecosystems;”
  • Enhancing the early warning capacity of the Government for floods, droughts and wildfires;
  • Finalizing and implementing the C. Flood Strategy noted above;
  • Developing and piloting planning initiatives to help secure water supplies and reduce water consumption;
  • Including climate resilience in community planning;
  • Increasing climate resilience in buildings by –
    • Adopting building codes that account for future changing climates throughout B.C.;
    • Providing training to the public sector and building industry on the use of future climate information to support market transformation;”
    • Assessing current and future climate risks to public sector buildings;”
    • Requiring future climate be considered in capital planning;”
    • “… Integrating resilience considerations with existing and proposed energy efficiency programs for buildings;” and
    • Sharing best practices.

The Ministry is asking for comments by August 12. If you have any questions or comments please contact the Ministry at ClimateReadyBC@gov.bc.ca or visit www.engage.gov.bc.ca/climatereadybc. You can also contact UDI through Heather Park at 604.661.3034.

 

June 15, 2021

Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance Annual Report

As noted previously, the Professional Governance Act (PGA) came into force on February 5, 2021. The Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance (OSPG) has released its annual report describing current and future work. The OSPG will continue to work to implement the PGA, monitoring and making adjustments as necessary. The Office will maintain regulatory frameworks responsive to the changing professional environments and support regulatory bodies in effectively regulating their registrants. In addition, the OSPG will enforce compliance with the PGA.

Moving forward, the OSPG will be prioritizing its role in professional oversight, and within 6 months of the implementation of the PGA, explore with the Office of Housing and Construction Standards the roles and responsibilities and governance of other occupations in the built environment sector. Within the first year of the implementation of the PGA, the OSPG intends to also complete the transition of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia to designation and oversight under the PGA.

To read the full annual report, please click here.

 

CleanBC Better Homes New Construction Program

The CleanBC Better Homes New Construction Program is providing rebates of up to $15,000 for the construction of new, high-performance, electric homes through utilization of an Energy Step Code or heat pump rebate pathway. This adoption of the BC Energy Step Code aims to make energy efficient, climate-friendly homes more affordable and accessible to British Columbians.

The Energy Step Code rebate pathway requires a new home to meet a minimum Energy Step Code level, and use electric space and water heating systems. The program is open to builders, developers and owner builders who received a building permit on or after April 1, 2020 for homes that are single-family, laneway, duplex, or row/townhome. Homes must be constructed in compliance with Part 9 of the BC Building Code, and where applicable, the municipally-adopted minimum Energy Step Code requirement.

More information about the program can be found here.


 

June 1, 2021

BC Floodplain Maps Inventory Report

As noted in previous newsletters, UDI sits on a BCREA Floodplain Maps Working Group that is seeking to improve floodplain mapping in British Columbia. Last week, BCREA released its 2021 BC Floodplain Maps Inventory Report. They conducted the research with the University of British Columbia Okanagan and received funding from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.

The Study documents the maps that have been developed/updated between 2015 and 2020. It also “… updates research BCREA first undertook in 2015 …,” and “… provides insights into how local governments and First Nations use floodplain maps, whether they are publicly available and the challenges and opportunities communities experience with floodplain mapping projects.” A key finding of the Initiative “… is the importance of federal and provincial funding programs.” Please see BCREA’s blog post on the release of their Report.

For full functionality of the report, please download a copy.


 

May 18, 2021

Temporary tools become permanent improvements for local governments

On May 13th, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, announced new legislative amendments to permanently implement temporary municipal authority changes, including virtual public hearings. 

These legislative changes will provide municipalities and regional districts in B.C. with new permanent authorities, such as enabling them to hold virtual and hybrid meetings and public hearings in addition to in-person meetings. The changes will come into effect once the COVID-19 emergency authorities for electronic meetings and public hearings are lifted.

In addition, the new legislation will:

  • expand eligibility for mail ballot voting by bylaw in local government elections;
  • permit improvement districts greater flexibility with the timing of their annual general meetings and trustee terms; and
  • create new ministerial authorities for borrowing in emergency situations and elections administration matters, allowing the Province to be more responsive in future extraordinary events.

For further details, please see the government news release.

 

Exemptions from the Additional Property Transfer Tax Improved for Partnerships with Foreign Entities

As noted in previous newsletters, UDI has been working with the Province concerning the Additional Property Transfer Tax for Foreign Entities & Taxable Trustees on the acquisition of residential property for redevelopment (the “Foreign Buyers Tax” or FBT). 

Last May, the Government approved Property Transfer Tax Regulation, B.C. Reg. 74/88, which came into effect on June 1, 2020. Under this Regulation, if a general partner of a qualified Canadian-controlled limited partnership purchases land, it is exempt from the FBT (even where a minority  interest in the limited partnership is held by a foreign limited partner), provided that certain specific conditions are met. Unfortunately, the Regulation was not retroactive to August 2016 when the FBT was first introduced, and it did not apply to situations when a bare trustee (rather than the general partner) is being used as the registered owner of the residential property being acquired for redevelopment for and on behalf of the limited partnership.

Over the past year, UDI has been seeking amendments to improve the Regulation. The Government has now amended Regulation 74/88.  The FBT exemption now also applies when a bare trustee corporation acquires property by on behalf of the qualified Canadian-controlled limited partnership, again provided that certain specific conditions are met. The change is retroactive to June 1, 2020.

In addition, the Regulation also allows “A transferee who is entitled to an exemption … in respect of a taxable transaction and who fails to apply for that exemption on the registration date may, within 6 years after that date, apply to the administrator for refund of the tax paid by the transferee …”. If the tax administrator “… is satisfied that the transferee would have qualified for an exemption under on the registration date,” they can refund “… the portion of the amount of tax paid by the transferee that is equivalent to the amount of the exemption to which the transferee would have been entitled had the application for the exemption been made on the registration date.”


 

May 4, 2021

REDMA Early Marketing Period Permanently Extended

On April 27th, the Superintendent of Real Estate permanently extended the early marketing period to 12 months. OSRE will sunset Policy Statement 17and has amended Policy Statement 5 and 6 with the 12-month period, effective May 1, 2021.

These changes were made by the Superintendent in recognition, “that as developments and approval requirements become more complex, it may take longer to obtain building permits. It may also take longer to qualify for development financing as lenders are now requiring more substantial numbers of pre-sale purchase agreements before providing financing commitments.”

Last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, UDI worked with the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE) and others to temporarily extend the early marketing period for projects marketed prior to obtaining building permits and financing commitments under the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (REDMA) regulatory framework. 

UDI was successful in this advocacy, and effective April 17, 2020, Policy Statement 17 temporarily extended the 9-month early marketing periods set out in Policy Statements Five and Six to 12 months. Initially, the temporary extension was supposed to end on July 17, 2020. However, on July 15, 2020, the Province extended the provisions in Policy Statement 17 to April 30, 2021.

UDI continued to support additional and permanent extensions to early marketing periods. We are very pleased with the announcement made last week, as this is a positive step for consumers and builders.

For more information on this change, please see the information bulletin here. Additional information on marketing requirements for projects is also available on the Government of B.C. website here

 

Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT)

The SVT applies to airspace above buildings if it is classed as residential. This has become problematic for some commercial landlords and tenants who have to pay the tax – in addition to the Additional School Tax and higher municipal/provincial property taxes for airspace – especially those in high growth areas.

On April 29, the Government announced that it “… will temporarily remove the speculation and vacancy tax liability for 2020 for property owners that meet certain conditions. Both property owners and tenants can now apply for the remission …”. In addition, the Hon. Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance, stated that the Province “… will continue working with the Union of B.C. Municipalities and stakeholders to find a permanent solution to the concerns of businesses around property assessment and taxation that won’t create sudden shifts in tax burden to other businesses …”.  However, the statement also makes clear that the Government does not believe that tenants should have the SVT costs passed on to them by landlords through triple-net leases.

 

BC Hydro Electrification Plan

As part its election platform last Fall, the Government agreed to empower local governments to set their own carbon pollution performance standards for new buildings, and it was also included in the mandate letter for the Hon. David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. Metro Vancouver is also considering regulating Green House Gas (GHG) emissions under its proposed Clean Air Plan that was noted in the last UDI newsletter.

There are several initiatives underway to increase the electrification of buildings. UDI participated in two of them last month. BC Hydro is developing an Electrification Plan, which will be included in their Fiscal 2023+ Revenue Requirements Application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission. BC Hydro held consultations on the Electrification Plan through several webinars in April “… to get initial feedback on key elements of the plan, including opportunities, barriers, and proposed actions.” The sessions were divided into three different areas – buildings, transportation (including electric vehicle charging) and industry.

BC Hydro also helped fund and participated in developing British Columbia’s Building Electrification Roadmap, which was launched on April 21. It provides a “roadmap” to achieving the following objective:

“By 2030, nearly all new and most replacement space heating and domestic hot water systems in BC’s homes and buildings will be high-efficiency electric, in pursuit of a province-wide shift to low-carbon buildings.”

It includes over fifty Targeted Actions and 25 Objectives under five core strategies:

  1. Create Market Demand;
  2. Improve Cost Competitiveness;
  3. Address Systemic Barriers;
  4. Expand Industry Capacity; and
  5. Increase Available Technologies.”

The Objectives and Targeted Actions include:

  • Municipal and Provincial mandated requirements for new and existing buildings;
  • Incentives and alternative low-cost financing;
  • Improving electrical utility rates so there are no financial disincentives for residents and businesses who are considering using hydro for space and water heating;
  • Reducing “… electricity connection and system upgrade costs; ”
  • Reducing “… landlords’ legal barriers to undertake electrification retrofits;”
  • Increasing industry capacity through education and training; and
  • Accelerating “… the certification of promising new technologies,” and supporting “… the introduction of already certified technologies.”

 

Professional Governance Act (PGA)

As noted in previous newsletters, the Government passed the PGA in 2018 to standardize the governance of regulatory bodies of professionals to ensure that those organizations are transparent, accountable and regulating their members appropriately.  The Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance administers the PGA and oversees the following regulatory bodies:

  • The Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC;
  • Association of BC Forest Professionals;
  • BC Institute of Agrologists;
  • College of Applied Biology;
  • Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia; and soon
  • The Architectural Institute of BC.

In mid-April, the OSPG held a webinar on the implementation of the PGA, which included information regarding:

  • Practice Rights;
  • The Duty to Report;
  • The Regulations of Firms; and
  • Standards of Good Regulation.

They have since released the PowerPoint slides and the recording of the webinar. The Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia have also provided information to their members on the regulation of firms.

 

Land Owner Transparency Registry Update

Beginning April 30, 2021 the public can now pay a fee to search B.C.’s Land Owner Transparency Registry (LOTR) by using myLTSA Explorer.

Under the Land Owner Transparency Act (LOTA) mandatory reporting about beneficial ownership of land – ownership interests not reflected in the land title register was already introduced.

Effective November 30, 2020, when an application is made to register an interest in land each transferee must file a transparency declaration, and if necessary, a transparency report with the administrator of the LOTR. The LOTR is a searchable registry of information about individuals who are deemed to have an indirect interest in land through corporations, trusts and partnerships. This registry will be accessible for search by tax authorities, law enforcement, regulators, the LOTA enforcement officer, and the public.

By November 30, 2021, clients of realty and accounting professionals that are holding an interest in land as a reporting body – a relevant corporation, relevant trust or relevant partnership, as defined by LOTA – are required to file a transparency report in LOTR or be at risk of enforcement action.

For further details, please see https://landtransparency.ca/. For LOTA interpretation please see www.gov.bc.ca/landownertransparency.


 

April 20, 2021

New Funding for BC HousingHub

On April 15th, UDI was pleased that the Province announced $2 billion in new funding for B.C.’s HousingHub program. The funding will allow HousingHub, a division of BC Housing, to provide lower interest loans to builders for projects with more affordable rental units or homeownership opportunities. The loans would need to be repaid following the completion of construction, supporting reinvestments in other housing projects over the next decade.

The NDP Government is expect to include this announcement in today’s Budget 2021.

 

Mass Timber Demonstration Program and Advisory Council

On April 7th, the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation announced that it would be providing funding for 12 mass timber demonstration projects across B.C. and has established the new Mass Timber Advisory Council (MTAC).

The investment will fund a variety of projects and research initiatives into mass timber construction. UDI, President and CEO, Anne McMullin will be participating on the MTAC to provide advice and guidance as the Province establishes its mass timber action plan.

 

New RTB Changes and Rent Freeze Extension Given Royal Assent

On March 25th, Bill 7- Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act received Royal Assent. While the Province had already introduced and extended the residential rent freeze during the COVID-19 pandemic, the new extension freezes rents until the end of 2021. This means that, “all renters who have received notice of a rent increase that would have taken effect after March 30, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2022, can disregard those notices.”

Bill 7 will also require landlords to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) prior to ending a tenancy agreement for the purposes of conducting renovations. This change will come into effect on July 1, 2021.

 

Request for Proposals – BC Energy Step Code Mandatory Training

BC Housing has just released a BC Bid opportunity seeking a training curriculum consultant to support BC Energy Step Code work. The RFP is an invitation to consultants with relevant experience, knowledge and skills to submit non-binding offers to produce a training curriculum for the BC Energy Step Code.

The BC Energy Step Code establishes progressive performance targets (or Steps) to support transformation from the current energy-efficiency requirements in the BCBC to net zero energy-ready buildings by 2032. Stakeholders have identified a gap in licensed residential builder training with respect to the construction of higher energy performance homes. To address this, BC Housing and its partners are looking to hire a consultant to develop training curriculum that would prepare builders to meet the BC Energy Step Code and would become a mandatory part of builders’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements.

If you are interested in learning more about the RFP, please visit the BC Bids website and browse opportunities by organization, under BC Housing Management Commission (BC Housing).


 

April 6, 2021

Sectoral Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Targets

As noted in previous newsletters, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy was establishing sectoral GHG reduction targets for 2030 to ensure the Province achieves its legislated overall 2030, 2040 and 2050 GHG reduction goals. The overall Provincial target for 2030 “… is to reduce emissions by 40 percent below 2007 levels, on the way to reaching our 2050 goal of net zero emissions.” They released a Setting Sectoral Targets for Emissions Reductions Discussion Paper. UDI responded to the Discussion Paper in a January 25, 2021 letter.  On March 26, the Province released the sectoral target ranges for 2030, and they are:

  • transportation – 27 to 32%;
  • industry – 38 to 43%;
  • oil and gas – 33 to 38%; and
  • buildings and communities – 59 to 64%.”

These ranges “… are expressed as a percentage reduction from 2007 sector emissions.” It is our understanding that the Office of Housing and Construction Standards under the Ministry of Housing will be extensively consulting on how to achieve the ambitious 2030 targets. This includes the key issue of determining what percentage of the GHG reductions will come from the various components under the broad category of Buildings and Communities, which includes new and existing “Commercial and institutional buildings, residential buildings, waste, and afforestation/deforestation (land-use change).” UDI will keep members informed when these consultations begin.

 

BC Housing Request for Proposals: Consulting Services to Conduct an Economics of Mass Timber Study

BC Housing is currently accepting proposals for consultants with experience in mass timber to conduct an Economics of Mass Timber Study.

BC Housing together with a national industry consortium wishes to test the potential of using mass timber in multi-unit construction to help address affordable rental housing demand, while simultaneously reducing building-related Green House Gas (“GHG”) emissions. Mass timber represents an opportunity to grow the green economy while supporting local employment and BC’s forest industry. Understanding the economics of mass timber construction for projects between 7-12 stories will provide an understanding of options and solutions for delivery of new housing units.

If you are interested in learning more about the RFP, please visit the BC Bids website and browse opportunities by organization, under BC Housing Management Commission (BC Housing).


 

March 23, 2021

Building Benchmark BC

A dozen jurisdictions in British Columbia are collaborating on a Building Benchmark BC project. The intent of the program is to “… better understand the carbon emissions from larger buildings (e.g. offices, commercial and larger apartment buildings), in order to develop fair and effective programs to reduce those emissions.” The jurisdictions participating in the program are:

  • Metro Vancouver;
  • City of Surrey;
  • City of Richmond;
  • City of Vancouver;
  • University of British Columbia;
  • City of Burnaby;
  • City of North Vancouver;
  • Township of Langley;
  • City of Victoria;
  • District of Saanich;
  • City of New Westminster; and
  • City of Kelowna.

If you are interested in further information or want to participate in the program, please visit the Building Benchmark BC website. The results from the first year of the project are have been released.


 

March 9, 2021

Local Government Development Approvals Program

As noted in previous newsletters, the Provincial Government has been interested in working with municipalities and stakeholders to improve development approval processing times. In September 2019, they released the Development Approvals Process Review Report, and a key objective in the mandate letter for the Hon. Josie Osborne, Minister of Municipal Affairs, is “… work to bring down the cost of housing for people by streamlining and modernizing development permitting and approvals.”

On March 5, the Minister announced a $15 million Local Government Development Approvals Program, which is intended to help “…local governments look at best practices and innovative ways to support non-profit housing organizations, developers and other stakeholders to deliver essential and diverse types of housing to people around the province.” This includes:

  • Better information technology;
  • Pre-application workshops/seminars; and
  • conducting internal reviews of current development approvals processes to identify opportunities for improvement.”

Anne McMullin, President & CEO of UDI, strongly supported the announcement, stating “We are very pleased that the government is moving forward with this innovative funding program to improve local government approval processes. Changing and speeding up our planning processes will provide more affordable homes and more housing choice for British Columbians.”

 

BC Building Code Capacity Survey

The Building and Safety Standards Branch of the Provincial Government is leading a study to develop a broad understanding of the current state of readiness to implement all updates of the BC Building Code until 2032, as well as the voluntary BC Energy Step Code Steps, across British Columbia.

Scius and the Delphi Group, consultants retained by the Government, have developed a short survey for organizations delivering and facilitating training. This includes education providers, industry associations, utilities, and NGOs. Please note that all responses will only be shared in aggregate and responses will be gathered in confidence.

From the survey results, they intend “… to gather insights on the state of readiness of key professions, availability and applicability of training programs, any regionally-specific issues, and any further thoughts about future code updates moving towards Net Zero Energy ready by 2032.” The focus of the survey “… is on mid-career skills enhancement and not on apprenticeship training.”

If you have any questions, please contact Dale Andersson, Senior Policy Advisor, Building and Safety Standards Branch.

 

BC Energy Step Code & LEED

For those proponents implementing the BC Energy Step Code (ESC) in their projects, and also want to obtain certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, there is an Alternative Compliance Path (ACP) that will streamline the certification process. The ACP “… provides a recognition path for projects going beyond code, enabling them to earn LEED points for energy performance by simply demonstrating compliance with Step 2 or higher of the BC Energy Step Code.” It’s “… available to Part 3 buildings in British Columbia pursuing LEED v4 or LEED v4.1 under BD+C or Multifamily Midrise, in jurisdictions where the BC Energy Step Code has been referenced and its provisions are being enforced.”

The Canadian Green Building Council has released a video regarding the ACP. If you have any questions, please contact LEED Coach Canada.

 

BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) Oversight of Real Estate: On March 2, the Government announced legislative amendments to make the BCFSA “… the single regulator for real estate in B.C. later in 2021.” This will be done through Bill 8, the Finance Statutes Amendment Act, 2021. The Bill will establish “… a single regulator of financial services and real estate by bringing the responsibilities of the Real Estate Council of British Columbia and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate under BCFSA.” This approach was recommended by “… the Real Estate Regulatory Structure Review in 2018, as well as the Expert Panel on Money Laundering in BC Real Estate in 2019.” When implemented, Bill 8 will give the BCFSA authority over:

  • education and licensing for real estate professionals;
  • establishing rules governing the conduct for real estate professionals; and
  • investigation and discipline for licensed and unlicensed individuals.”

 

February 23, 2021

Intentions Paper for Regulating Soil Relocation

As noted in previous newsletters, the Ministry has been developing a new regulatory approach for the movement of soils. They released a Discussion Paper in 2014, an Intentions Paper in 2016 and a Final Policy Directions Paper in 2019. UDI participated in the consultations, and provided feedback to the Ministry. Please see our previous correspondence. In March 2020, the Government passed Bill 3, the Environmental Management Amendment Act, which included enabling provisions for the regulatory changes for soil relocation.

The Ministry has now released an Intentions Paper for Regulating Soil Relocation, and they are asking for comments by March 15 through a Comment Form. UDI’s Contaminated Sites Committee is reviewing the Paper. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Cassandra McColman by March 2. The soil relocation regulatory proposals will be going to Cabinet for approval this year.

In the Intentions Paper, the Ministry is proposing to:

  • Eliminate Contaminated Soil Relocation Agreements;
  • Add public notification requirements and two-week notification requirements for First Nations and Local Governments for soil relocations greater than 10 m3 that are from commercial/industrial sites;
  • Establish new testing requirements for a person removing soil from a site to ensure that it “… meets the land uses standards of the receiving site,” and if it does not, proponents will have to use other Ministry processes “… such as authorizations and Approvals in Principle.”
  • Establish Administrative Monetary Penalties of up to $75,000 “… for those that do not follow the rules;” and
  • “… Introduce new requirements for sites receiving high volumes of soil.”

The new process is provided in the flow chart below. There will be three exemptions for the notification requirements:

  1. preloading:
  2. When uncontaminated soil is being moved out of province; and
  3. When the volume of uncontaminated soil is less than 10 cubic metres per ‘job’ requires many soil relocations to a single receiving site during a project for a period of up to two years.”

If you have any questions for the Ministry, they can be directed to site@gov.bc.ca.


 

February 10, 2021

Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance (OSPG) – Professional Governance Act (PGA)

As noted in previous newsletters, the Government passed a Professional Governance Act in 2018 to increase “… transparency and accountability for regulatory bodies,” and ensure “… professionals act in the public interest …”. It is intended to standardize “… how regulatory bodies govern their registered professionals …,” including expectations for:

  • Codes of ethics;
  • Continuing education;
  • Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; and
  • Transparency.

The legislation established an Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance, which administers the PGA and oversees the following regulatory bodies:

  • The Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC;
  • Association of BC Forest Professionals;
  • BC Institute of Agrologists;
  • College of Applied Biology;
  • Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia; and soon
  • The Architectural Institute of BC.

The legislation began to be brought into force in June, 2019. The PGA came fully into force on February 5, so the current legislation governing the respective professions has now officially been repealed. For more information please see:

 

Regulation of Soil Relocation – Intentions Paper

As noted in 2019, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is reviewing potential changes to the current soil relocation process. In January 2021, the Ministry released a new Intentions Paper on the topic to provide further details on the proposed regulatory changes.

UDI will be providing comments on this paper and if you would like to share your thoughts with the UDI team please contact Cassandra McColman by February 24, 2021.


 

January 26, 2021

UDI Responses to Provincial Mandate Letters

Over the last month, UDI has written key members of the Provincial Cabinet to congratulate them on their appointments; outline key issues for the Building Sector, and respond to Government priorities as outlined in the Mandate letters to Ministers. Please see our letters to the following ministers:

UDI also has and will continue to meet with these ministers and other senior government officials to discuss key industry issues (please see our Housing Priorities Policy Paper), and the Province’s policy goals.

 

Sectoral Targets for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emission Reductions

To help achieve its legislated 2030, 2040 and 2050 GHG emission targets for British Columbia, the Province established a 2025 interim target of 16% lower emissions than 2007 levels. Under the Climate Change Accountability Act, they have to establish interim sectoral targets by March 31, 2021. CleanBC, has released a Setting Sectoral Targets for Emissions Reductions Discussion Paper. Please also see UDI’s response to the Discussion Paper.

The main issue UDI raised is the need for discussions with the Building Sector before the sectoral targets are established. These consultations need to occur soon because the Discussion Paper is very preliminary. Issues such as the “Principles for developing sectoral targets;” the types of potential metrics that could be used; and defining the sectors are the focus of the Paper – as opposed to what the metrics should be.

It is noted in the Discussion Paper that in 2015, the B.C. Climate Leadership Team had advocated for 50% reductions in GHG emissions (from 2015 levels) for the Buildings/Communities Sector where as the other two sectors (Transportation and Industry) only had 30% reductions – even though those two sectors had approximately double the emissions of the Building/Communities Sector. This disproportionality requires further discussion with the building industry if CleanBC proposes similar sectoral targets.

Another significant issue raised in the UDI response is the need for a wider view of land-use changes to reduce GHG emissions by CleanBC. In terms of land-use changes, the focus of the Discussion Paper is on afforestation and deforestation. The impact of compact, mixed-use, transit-oriented communities on reducing GHG emissions is not raised in the Paper. UDI recommends that this issue become a priority.

UDI will keep members informed of the Government’s progress in establishing sectoral targets and then the policies that will impact the Building/Communities Sector.

 

Reminder: Technical Safety BC Fee consultation 2021-2023 

Technical Safety BC is proposing two fee increase options that would come into effect late 2021. The fee changes would apply across all products and services from 2021 to 2023.

Please take this quick survey to provide feedback on the proposed rates. The input gathered will inform how fee increases will be structured and help us better serve you.

The consultation period is open until January 31. For more information about the 2021 fee changes see the link here. If you have any other questions, please contact the Stakeholder Engagement team.


 

January 12, 2021

B.C. Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) – Final report on Strata Property Insurance

As noted in previous newsletters, the BCFSA has been reviewing the issue of rapidly increasing insurance rates and deductibles for strata corporations. UDI has participated in their consultations and held an April 16 Breakfast Webinar on the issue, as strata insurance rates increased on average 50% year-over-year in Metro Vancouver. Last month, the BCFSA released their final report – Strengthening Foundations: A Report on the State of Strata Property Insurance in British Columbia.

In their Report, the BCFSA focuses on issues that they as a regulator can mandate and encourage. They note that the current state of the strata insurance market is “unhealthy”, and has been hit with a “perfect storm” of forces that has resulted in the rapid increase in insurance rates, including:

  • A natural movement in the insurance cycle from a long soft market when insurance is underpriced to a hard market in which insurance companies retrench and prices and deductibles increase;
  • An increase in catastrophic events such as the California wildfires, COVID-19 and flooding;
  • Changes to risk models for earthquakes, which show the costs of a seismic event will be much higher than previously thought;
  • Some stratas using insurance to pay for upkeep and maintenance of the their properties;
  • Increases in population, density and total insured values of stratas in the urban regions of British Columbia occurring at the same time insurance companies are retrenching; and
  • A general lack of information amongst the various players that impact the strata market – insurers, brokers, municipalities, builders, strata councils, and strata mangers.

The BCFSA notes that it will be several years before insurance rates can be normalized, but they make several recommendations to help lower rates such as resolving the data and regulatory gaps in the insurance systems and eliminating Best Terms Pricing (BTP). Because buildings are large in British Columbia, several companies are needed to provide insurance. Companies provide bids for a share of the insurance for buildings. Under BTP, the insurance for a strata is determined by the highest bid. This has impacted the insurance pricing for 94% of strata properties in a recent BCFSA sample. For 13% of the properties, BTP led to 50% higher premiums. BCFSA and the insurance industry have taken steps to end this practice.

BCFSA indicates that it will be working with others on additional approaches to reduce insurance, including:

  • Exploring public-private risk-sharing mechanisms for earthquake and other catastrophic events;
  • Providing advice on new self insurance models, including new captive insurance approaches, mutual insurance and reciprocal exchanges; and
  • The potential creation by government of a risk-sharing pool (e.g. facility association) akin to that used in the private sector automobile insurance market to insure higher risk properties.”

The Government will also be establishing guidelines to clarify what strata corporations are required to insure – including when they are not required to obtain full replacement value insurance coverage. They will also be capping liability for individual strata owners held responsible for damages as well as strengthening depreciation report requirements.

There are some issues raised in the Report that will impact UDI members. The BCFSA agrees with UDI and other stakeholders that the insurance industry needs to be involved in the development of new building code requirements as they can impact insurance rates. The BCFSA also recommends that builders take steps to prevent issues that can lead to claims occurring more often – especially with regard to water damage. There needs to be more education and clarity with regard to home warranty insurance. Several stratas are choosing insurance over their warranty program because they are unsure whether warranties will apply; this is especially for consequential damages.

 

 Building Accessibility Handbook

The Building & Safety Standards Branch has released a digital Building Accessibility Handbook for 2020, which is now available on their website.

The new Building Accessibility Handbook reflects the British Columbia Building Code 2018 accessibility requirements. The 2018 British Columbia Building Code is based substantially on the 2015 National Building Code. The handbook is a separate resource that provides explanatory text and illustrations to support Code users to better understand and apply the complex Code requirements to make buildings more accessible.

The 2020 handbook is designed to support BC Building Code users to create more accessible buildings. Some key changes include:

  • A refreshed title to reflect the intention of the handbook, which is to support universal design and access to and throughout buildings;
  • Incorporating the British Columbia Building Code 2018 accessibility design requirements as well as intent statements and attributions to provide the reasons for requirements and support Code application;
  • Renewed commentary, to increase clarity and readability, and illustrations, to represent diverse building occupants; and
  • Links to leading standards, programs, and resources to provide additional accessibility guidance.

It is important to note the handbook is not a design guide or a training manual. It does not replace the need for formal Code education or qualified individuals trained on accessible building systems and design.

Work to prepare the printed handbook is underway. At this time, BSSB staff do not have a confirmed release date. Queen’s Printer anticipates publication of the printed handbook later in 2021 and will notify Code users when it is available.


 

December 15, 2020

Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability Interim Report

As noted in previous newsletters, the Canadian and British Columbia governments established an Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability in September 2019. The Panel includes Brian McCauley, the President and CEO of Concert Properties and former UDI Chair and current UDI Director. In January, the Panel began to meet with stakeholders through interviews and roundtables. UDI participated in the discussions and UDI Board Chair, Beau Jarvis presented to the Expect Panel in January 2020. Last week, the Panel released their Interim Report – What We Heard. They heard several themes during their conversations with stakeholders, including:

  • Policy Challenges,
  • Construction Challenges,
  • Rental Supply,
  • Unwarranted Demand,
  • Urban Development,
  • Job Creation and Recruitment,
  • Housing Affordability,
  • Generational Housing, and
  • Opportunities for Indigenous Housing Providers.

 

In their Interim Report, the Panel also recognizes that “Barriers to housing supply remain one of, if not the most important, factors in driving up home prices,” and the importance of land use planning – especially the need to link it with transportation investments. Many stakeholders discussed the need for senior governments to be more assertive with local governments with regard to land use planning, including putting conditions, such as growth targets, on the investments they make in municipalities. Steps to improve processing times and the need for transparency in fees are also noted in the Interim Report.

The Panel also heard about the need for senior governments to provide more fiscal support to housing providers to encourage more rental housing. This includes a GST exemption for purpose-built rental (PBR) projects.  Increasing the incomes of vulnerable people is also noted as a key step in improving housing affordability. They also note that some participants advocated for eliminating rent control on new projects initially, but bringing it in over time for new PBR buildings.

For their Final Report, the Panel is focusing on:

  • Governance, or the way in which governments control or influence the supply of housing,
  • The diversity of housing for all income levels and tenures, and
  • Accelerating and adding certainty to the process for adding new supply.”

If you are interested in responding to the Interim Report, the Panel asks that you email your feedback to the experthousingpanel@gov.bc.ca by 4:00 p.m. on January 15, 2021. Their final report will be completed in early 2021.

 

Cullen Commission Interim Report

On December 10, the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia issued its Interim Report, and the Commissioner, Austin Cullen, indicated that the final report (due in May) will be delayed due to “… the breadth of the issues being addressed, the length of the public hearings, the effects of the pandemic, and delays and challenges in obtaining documents,” especially from the Federal Government.

The Interim Report includes a description of the Commission’s mandate, organization and work as well as summary of previous reports on money laundering, including Part 1 and Part 2 of the German Report, the Maloney Report and Perrin Report. With regard to the real estate sector, the Commission indicates that it will be reviewing several issues in the coming months, including:

  • Reporting by real estate agents of suspicious activity to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), as concerns have been raised about the agency’s “… inability to communicate effectively with the profession;”
  • “… Whether mortgage brokers should be required to submit suspicious transaction reports to FINTRAC or a provincial body set up for that purpose;”
  • Regulatory oversight, as there are a number of regulators overseeing the real estate industry and there are also questions about whether they “ … have the mandate and resources to address money laundering, and whether any additional measures (such as access to relevant databases and the removal of constraints on information sharing) can be taken to improve their ability to confront that issue;”
  • Beneficial Ownership and “… the nature and efficacy of the Land Owner Transparency Registry,” which came into force on November 30;
  • Private Lending;
  • “… Money laundering vulnerabilities in the commercial real estate sector;” and
  • An examination of “… the causes of price increases in the housing market as well as the extent to which those price increases can be causally connected to money laundering.”

 

CleanBC Better Homes: Double the Rebate Campaign – Retrofit Incentives

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic BC Hydro, FortisBC and The Province of BC have partnered to offer double the rebates on select upgrades for a limited time. Details on eligible upgrades and rebate amounts can be found at: 

bchydro.com/doublehomerebatesfortisbc.com/doublerebate and betterhomesbc.ca/double-the-rebate.

You must register and receive a promo code to be eligible for these offers. Promo code registration is open until December 31, 2020. Upgrades must be complete and invoiced between October 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Double the rebate amount(s) will not be applied to the rebate application until after the application has been reviewed and approved. Rebate applications must be submitted within 6 months of the invoice date.

To receive your promo code for the Double the Rebate Campaign, complete the form on BC Hydro’s website before December 31, 2020.

 

Applications now accepted for the CleanBC Go Electric Public Charger Program

The recently announced CleanBC Go Electric Public Charger Program (the Program) is a sub-program of the CleanBC Go Electric initiative and is intended to increase the number of public direct current fast charging (DCFC) stations throughout B.C. to support the growing number of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the road. The Program aims to target current gaps in the public DCFC network in B.C. such as Indigenous communities, rural and northern areas, and city centers experiencing long queues for DCFCs due to high ZEV uptake.

The Province and its delivery partner, the Fraser Basin Council Society, are pleased to announce that applications are being accepted for the Public Charger Program. Successful applicants may be eligible for incentives of up to $80,000 per DCFC, with enhanced incentives of up to $130,000 per DCFC for Indigenous communities. Go to pluginbc.ca/publiccharger for more information and to apply. Applications will be accepted on a continuing basis and reviewed regularly.


 

December 1, 2020

Provincial Government Announces New Cabinet

On November 26, Premier John Horgan announced his Cabinet, charting a path forward for his new majority government.  Horgan stated the Cabinet choices would fulfill campaign promises of continuing to fight the pandemic, improving the quality of health care, ensuring affordability and security across the province, and investing in good jobs as well as a clean-energy future.
 
The cabinet consists of 20 ministers and four ministers of state. It is gender-balanced with 12 women and 12 men and was, for the first time ever, appointed virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UDI extends many congratulations to all the newly appointed ministers, including the following who will have a substantial impact on our sector:  

  • Minister of Finance, Hon. Selina Robinson; 
  • Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, Hon. David Eby; 
  • Minister of Municipal Affairs, Hon. Josie Osborne; 
  • Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, Hon. Ravi Kahlon; and 
  • Minister for Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Minister Responsible for TransLink, Hon. George Heyman. 

The full list of appointments can be found by clicking here.
 
We look forward to actively engaging with these ministers and their ministries to ensure the province’s rapid economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we also and keen to continue to support this government in its efforts to achieve their goal of delivering 114,000 new rental and affordable homes to British Columbians.  

Our industry is working hard to rebuild our province, our economy and our communities, and are eager to collaborate on ways to advance economic and housing opportunities for all British Columbians.  

UDI sent a congratulatory letter to the Premier earlier this month that also highlighted our housing policy priorities.

 

Funding opportunity via the Building Innovation Fund

The application process to access funding via the CleanBC Building Innovation Fund (CBBIF) has launched.  The application intake began on November 12, 2020 and will close on January 10, 2021. However, applications submitted by December 15, 2020 will have the opportunity to receive feedback and resubmit prior to the final deadline. This is the second intake of the CBBIF and this time $8 million has been allocated for project funding.

The CBBIF provides funding for projects that accelerate the availability and affordability of low-carbon building solutions including advanced building components and designs, new construction methods, low-carbon HVAC systems, and digital technology solutions. There are four streams of funding available: 

  1. Material, Component and System Manufacturing
  2. Digital Technology Solutions
  3. Demonstration Projects
  4. Open Call for Innovations

To learn more about the eligibility requirements and other program details please visit the program website.

If you have any further questions, please reach out to program staff, which can be contacted at buiding.innovation@gov.bc.ca.  

 

Land Owner Transparency Registry Now in Force

On behalf of Mark Lewis, Chair of UDI’s Real Estate Legal Issues Committee, below is a link to an article he has written regarding BC’s new Land Owner Transparency Registry that came into force on November 30, 2020. The Registry is a first-of-its-kind registry in Canada that is intended to operate in parallel to the Land Title Office and will record the indirect ownership of interests in land by certain individuals, as required by the BC Land Owner Transparency Act and Land Owner Transparency Regulation.

https://www.bennettjones.com/Publications-Section/Updates/BC-Introduces-Land-Owner-Transparency-Registry-to-Record-Indirect-Ownership-of-Land 


 

November 17, 2020

Land Owner Transparency Registry comes into force November 30, 2020

On behalf of Mark Lewis, Chair of UDI’s Real Estate Legal Issues Committee, below is a link to an article he has written regarding BC’s new Land Owner Transparency Registry that come into force on November 30, 2020. The Registry will be a first-of-its-kind registry in Canada that is intended to operate in parallel to the Land Title Office and will record the indirect ownership of interests in land by certain individuals, as required by the BC Land Owner Transparency Act and Land Owner Transparency Regulation.

https://www.bennettjones.com/Publications-Section/Updates/BC-Introduces-Land-Owner-Transparency-Registry-to-Record-Indirect-Ownership-of-Land 


 

November 3, 2020

B.C. Provincial Election 2020

On October 24, British Columbians cast their ballots in the provincial election. Although there are over 500,000 mail-in ballots yet to be tabulated, the ballots cast in-person in advance polls and on General Voting Day were enough to secure an NDP victory large enough that any such changes will not alter their majority stance.

The final count, which will include mail-in ballots, is set to begin on November 6, and is expected to take longer than usual due to the large increase in voting by mail. We may not know the full outcome of this election until mid-November, with several races still too close to call. Although not all of the races have been decided, the Leader of the BC Liberal Party, Andrew Wilkinson, has stated that he will step down as leader once a new leader has been selected by the party.

Once the final ballots are counted and the winners are announced, it is likely that the NDP will begin the selection process for a new Cabinet, the results of which may not be known until late November or even December. UDI looks forward to working with the government once the legislature resumes.

 

BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) Response – UDI/CHBA-BC Strata Insurance Letter

The office of the BCFSA responded to UDI and Canadian Home Builders Association-British Columbia’s joint letter to the consultation period that was held on rising strata insurance rates. See the BCFSA’s letter here. It is anticipated that the final report will be released before the end of 2020.


 

October 20, 2020

Property Tax Assessment Reminder

Under the Assessment Act, October 31st is the permitted use and physical state and condition date for the 2021 tax year.  BC Assessment photo documents all development sites this date to use as evidence in appeals for classification and valuations cases.  All developers ought to photo document their sites on October 31st, so they have their own evidence as to the physical changes on their site to assist in arguments around change in use and value of any improvements in the ground. If you have questions regarding this, call your tax agent/expert.

Paul Sullivan

Chair UDI Taxation Committee

 

All Candidates Forum – Mobility + Land Use

UDI is a member of the Moving in a Livable Region (MLR) Consortium – which “… aims to build a more resilient, equitable, economically strong, and healthy region,” and has been a strong advocate for transit and active transportation investments in Metro Vancouver.  As noted in the last newsletter, MLR held an all candidates meeting on October 15, 2020 on Mobility and Land Use that included candidates from the BC Liberal, NDP and Green parties. The forum was recorded and it has not been posted to their website.


 

October 6, 2020

Part 3 Energy Code Compliance Survey

FortisBC, in partnership with BC Hydro, is conducting a province-wide survey to collect information about energy code compliance for large buildings. Targeted respondent groups are industry professionals, practitioners and building officials who have experience within the last two years meeting or enforcing energy code for large buildings (Part 3 buildings and non-residential Part 9 buildings). In addition to indicating the current level of compliance with energy requirements, your anonymous responses will help identify barriers and opportunities to improve the code compliance process.

The survey is open now and can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Large_Bldg_Energy_Code_Compliance_2020

We encourage industry participants to take 20-25 minutes to complete this important survey before October 31, 2020. By completing the survey, you will also be eligible for a small thank you gift.

Thank you in advance for contributing to this important initiative. If you have any questions or wish to follow up on the results of the survey, please contact Sarah Bozoian (sbozoian@rdh.com).

 

To find out more about Energy Step Code updates and initiatives from the Province, you can also subscribe to receive updates: http://eepurl.com/cE-VnX.


 

September 22, 2020

B.C. Government Changes to B.C. Financial Institutions Act

On September 13, the B.C. Government announced changes to its Financial Institutions Act specifically aimed at addressing rising strata insurance costs.

  • Effective Nov. 1, 2020, amendments will require insurers or insurance agents to provide 30-day advanced notice directly to strata corporations of their intention to not renew an insurance policy or of any material changes to the policy. This change ensures strata corporations have advanced warning of cost increases and has time to seek other insurance options if desired.
  • As well, insurance agents will be required to disclose their commission amount, or a reasonable estimate, to strata corporations. Insurers who fail to meet these disclosure requirements face penalties of up to $25,000 for an individual or $50,000 for a corporation. 
  • Lastly and effective immediately, referral fees to strata property managers from strata insurance transactions are prohibited.

As noted previously, last month, UDI participated in two consultation meetings with the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA). UDI and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – British Columbia provided a joint response to the BCFSA consultation.


 

September 8, 2020

Maximum Allowable Rent Increases

On September 3, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced that the maximum allowable rent increase for 2021 will be set at 1.4%.  The current rent freeze will continue until December 2020, however rent repayment plans for any unpaid rents between March 18, 2020 and August 17, 2020 may come into effect as early as this month.

 

Strata Insurance

Last month, UDI participated in two consultation meetings with the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) regarding the rapidly increasing insurance premiums for strata buildings – including newly constructed buildings.

As noted in earlier newsletters, the BCFSA is conducting a review of the issue and released a June 16 interim Report on the BC Strata Property Insurance Market, and found that “Premiums have risen on average by approximately 40 per cent across the province over the past year while deductibles have increased up to triple-digits over the same period.” In addition, they reported that “Insurers have also focused on new buildings as being of higher risk. The data sample indicated average claims cost for buildings less than five-years-old was $18,000 compared to $10,000 for all ages.” As a result, “Strata insurers are now appearing to be more reluctant to insure new buildings less than five-years-old.” A significant issue for insurers is water damage, which accounted for over half of the claims in 2018. Insurers are also heavily scrutinizing buildings that are less fire resistant (e.g. wood-frame and tall timber).

UDI and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – British Columbia will be providing a joint response to the BCFSA consultation.

In addition, UDI participated in an Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) consultation on strata insurance in the Spring. IBC also released a Midterm Report earlier this summer. They noted several reasons for high strata insurance rates in the Province, including:

  • The insurance market cycle changing from soft (when there is a lot of competition and low premiums) to hard (when there is less completion and higher premiums);
  • Low interest rates;
  • An increasing frequency of extreme weather events due in part to climate change;
  • “… lax or non-existent regulations governing the risk management practices of strata corporations;”
  • Many stratas being “… in areas at high risk of earthquakes, floods and/or fire;”
  • Building values and construction have risen in recent years;”
  • a high number of units that are not occupied by unit owners;” and
  • The “… cost of delays in municipal permitting in BC …”.

Solutions offered by the IBC include:

  • Defining “… a standard condominium unit as a bare shell (bare floors, ceilings and unfinished interior walls of the unit) in legislation;”
  • Mandating in building codes “… fire breaks and/or fire walls in wood-frame buildings, recessed sprinklers, automatic water shut-off valves, moisture sensors and leak detection devices …”;
  • Prohibiting development in flood plains;
  • Mandating education for strata board members;
  • Strengthening the depreciation report requirements and oversight;
  • Capping loss assessments for strata lot owners;” and
  • To reduce repair costs, the BC provincial and local governments should find ways to speed up municipal permitting processes to reduce the time it takes to repair and rebuild properties after an insured loss.”

UDI is planning to organize another webinar on the strata insurance issue this Fall. Please see the link to the How to Mitigate the Impacts of Rising Condo Strata Insurance webinar we hosted in April.


 

August 25, 2020

Finance Committee releases report on Budget 2021 Consultation

On August 21, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released its report on the Budget 2021 Consultation. The report summarizes the submissions made as part of the consultation process, as well as the committee’s 124 recommendations for the upcoming budget.

These recommendations included the continued funding and advancement of the provincial government’s CleanBC plan, “to advance legislation, regulations and programs to meet the established targets, including expanding and enhancing energy efficiency programs and continuing to support reductions in vehicle emissions.”

In response to concerns raised by a variety of groups regarding municipal funding challenges highlighted by COVID-19, the report also recommended that the Province, Pursue municipal finance reform to provide municipalities with a broader range of sustainable, predictable and reliable funding tools in order to address increasing financial pressures related to a growing asset base, aging infrastructure, climate change, housing challenges and the opioid crisis.”

Regarding housing, the report also made the following recommendations:

Affordable and Social Housing

  • Accelerate the building of a continuum of supportive and affordable housing across the province, including transitional housing for women facing violence, gender-specific supportive housing, and expanded housing options for people with disabilities, youth at risk of or experiencing homelessness, and low-income seniors.
  • Work with the federal government to expand investment in Indigenous housing.

Development

  • Explore ways to support local governments to approve new housing construction projects and accelerate housing supply by streamlining development processes and implementing the recommendations from the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s 2019 Development Approvals Process Review.

Taxation

  • Review the property transfer tax thresholds and make any necessary adjustments to address the challenges related to home ownership due to the dynamic nature of the real estate market.

UDI submitted several recommendations as part of the consultation period, which was open from June 1 to June 26, 2020. The full committee report is available online along with information about the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

The Province will review the consultation material and recommendations of the committee ahead of the Spring 2021 release of its next budget.

 

UPDATED: Rental Repayment Plan

The provincial government announced on August 14, details on the new repayment framework for renters with outstanding rent from April to August 2020. The updated regulations have changed the end date of the moratorium on ending tenancy for unpaid rent to a fixed date; August 18. The updated regulations also provide guidance regarding late fees and rent increases. UDI appreciates the recognition that landlords and tenants have worked proactively together during this pandemic to achieve high levels of rent payment over the past several months. UDI continues to advocate for measures that will support members that both own and manage rental properties.   

As stated in the announcement, “Renters in arrears from rent due during the specified period of March 18 to Aug. 17 will have until at least July 2021 to pay back any rent they owe, with the first repayments not starting until October at the earliest. 

The terms of the repayment plan must include: 

  • amount of outstanding rent; 
  • start date of the repayment plan; 
  • amount of each installment; and 
  • dates for each installment. 

The repayment installments must begin at least 30 days after the date the plan is given by the landlord to the renter. It also must give renters until July 2021 for the final repayments to be made, unless the landlord and renter agree to a longer period.” 

For more information, please see the news release.  

 

UPDATED: Workers Compensation Act – Bill 23

On July 22, the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) passed “… amendments to Schedule 1 of the Workers Compensation Act, to add a presumption for infections caused by communicable viral pathogens, which are the subject of a BC-specific emergency declaration or notice” (i.e. COVID-19). It was anticipated that the changes would come into effect in late 2020.

However, as noted in the July 28 UDI newsletter, the Provincial Government introduced Bill 23, the Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2020, which received Royal Assent on August 14. The legislation eliminated the mandated 90-day waiting period in the Act before a WorkSafeBC regulatory amendment comes into effect with regard to this matter.

According to WorkSafeBC, “As a result of Bill 23, on August 19, 2020 the Board of Directors approved amending the effective date of the Schedule 1 amendments to August 20, 2020.” In addition, “The consequential amendments to Item C4-28.00, Contagious Diseases, and Appendix 2 of the Rehabilitation Services & Claims Manual, Volume II will also come into effect on August 20, 2020.” Please see the WCB resolution on the matter.  In addition to the COVID-19 issue, Bill 23 included the following provisions, “… effective immediately:

  • Preventative health care may be provided on pending claims, if medical evidence supports that without such services or supplies, the worker is at risk of a significant deterioration in health.
  • An explicit reference to mental disorders has been added to section 151(3) of the Act in order to distinguish mental disorders from personal injuries for the purpose of the one-year time limit for filing a compensation claim.
  • WorkSafeBC is able to reconsider a decision after 75 days have elapsed, if the decision contains an obvious error or omission.
  • WorkSafeBC can demand that a third party who is indebted (or is likely to become indebted) to an employer that owes an amount to WorkSafeBC pays all or part of that debt directly to WorkSafeBC.
  • Directors of a corporation at the time a debt to WorkSafeBC is accrued are now jointly and severally liable with that corporation for the debt.
  • The court may issue search and seizure warrants to WorkSafeBC where there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence against the Act has been or is being committed.
  • The laying of an information in respect of an offence no longer requires approval of the Board. (The laying of an information is what allows a prosecution to commence.)  

As of Jan. 1, 2021, the following three provisions will take effect:

  • The maximum insurable earnings threshold and maximum wage rate will increase to $100,000 (from $87,100) for 2021.
  • Permanent partial disability benefits will be based on the higher of a loss of earnings or loss of function calculation.
  • Retirement age for a worker may be determined after a worker has reached age 63.

UDI, alongside many business associations submitted a letter to the Hon. Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, voicing collective concern regarding Bill 23 and the considerable long-term costs to the workers compensation system during this period of economic recovery.

 

UPDATED: BCUC Thermal Energy Systems Regulatory Framework Review

As previously noted, BCUC had planned to hold a workshop to discuss the ongoing  Thermal Energy Systems Regulatory Framework Review. This was originally scheduled for April 2020, but was postponed to September due to COVID-19. Recently, BCUC released a letter indicating that the session will be further delayed and a new date will be announced in September.

 

WorksafeBC Publication: Safe Work Practices in Residential Construction and Notice of Project Bulletin

WorksafeBC has released a new publication that provides information on working safely on residential construction sites, with a focus on the three main phases: planning, site preparation, and construction. Other safety topics include working at elevation, and tool and equipment safety. This information is intended for builders, prime contractors, employers, workers and homeowners, with information about each individual or group’s roles and responsibilities along with safe work practices.

This replaces the previous version, Safe Work Practices for House Construction.

Additional resources are available for residential construction and restoration, renovation, and demolition.

In addition, WorksafeBC has also released a bulletin reminding builders who may be starting a residential construction project, to verify whether they are required to submit a Notice of Project (NOP) to WorksafeBC prior to starting work. Submissions can be made online and more information can be found on WorksafeBC’s website.


 

August 11, 2020

Rental Repayment Plan Update

On July 30, the Provincial Government updated the regulations surrounding the Rent Repayment Plan, which was initially released earlier that month. The newly announced regulations are intended to clarify the implementation of the Rent Repayment Plan, specifically when it will come into effect- when the State of Emergency is lifted.

As previously noted, the Rent Repayment Plan framework stipulates that landlords with tenants who have not paid their rent in full during the State of Emergency must offer a repayment plan that gives the tenant until July 10, 2021 to repay any arrears. Repayment plans must be drafted by the landlord and served to tenants at least 30 days in advance of the first payment’s due date.

Tenants who default on their repayment plan may be subject to a Notice to End Tenancy. Landlords that have already entered into a Rent Deferral Agreement have the option to maintain their existing plan subject to the regulations set-out by the RTB or replace that previous agreement with a new repayment plan.


 

July 28, 2020

Residential Rent Repayments

On July 16, the Province announced that it would be lifting the ban on evictions for non-payment of rent before September 1. As such, tenants will begin paying their full rent in the month of September.

Tenants will also be required to pay monthly installments of the outstanding rent due. However, tenants will have until July 2021 to pay off any accrued rent owed to landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic, through a repayment framework that is being established by the Province. The example of the repayment plan in the news release is: 

“… A renter owing $2,000 in unpaid rent will receive a repayment framework that sets out:

  • the total amount of rent still owed ($2,000);
  • the amount the renter is expected to pay each month, with the total owing split into instalments (e.g., $200 each month from October 2020 to July 2021);
  • the date of the first payment is due (Oct. 1, 2020).”

The provincial government is offering flexibility to landlords and tenants if they agree to a different repayment framework in the following areas:

  • Extending the end date;
  • Changing the monthly installment amount to allow earlier installments to be less; and
  • Extending the date that repayment begins for longer than 30 days.

In addition, “…renters will not have to make their first payment until the first rent due date following 30 days of notice from the date of the repayment plan” (e.g. October 1 if landlords provide repayment plans to their tenants before the end of August).

Further information on the repayment framework and evictions can be found here. The Government also said in its news release that restrictions on rent increases will continue until December, and landlords can continue to limit “… access to common spaces when required for COVID-19 related health reasons.”

UDI appreciates the recognition that landlords and tenants have worked proactively together during this pandemic to achieve high levels of rent payment over the past several months. This has been made possible through programs like the Temporary Rent Supplement (TRS), which enabled 85% of renters to continue paying their rent in full and another 12% to make partial payments.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact Marissa Chan-Kent at 778.846.2549 whenever possible.  

 

Workers Compensation Act – Bill 23

On July 14, the Minister of Labour tabled Bill 23, which proposes to eliminate the mandated 90-day waiting period in the Act before a WorkSafeBC regulatory amendment comes into effect, in relation to an occupational disease that is an infection caused by a communicable viral pathogen. If Bill 23 is passed prior to October 26, 2020, the effective date of the Schedule 1 amendment and consequential amendments will be adjusted accordingly. 

UDI, alongside many business associations submitted a letter to Minister Harry Bains voicing collective concern regarding the Bill and the considerable costs to the workers compensation system during this period of economic recovery. See here for the letter.  

The Policy, Regulation and Research Division of WorkSafeBC had received submissions to the proposal to add Infections Caused by Communicable Viral Pathogens, Including COVID-19, to Schedule 1 of the Workers Compensation Act (Act). The stakeholder feedback received by the Board of Directors informed its decision-making on the policy changes. Please click here for a summary of stakeholder comments.

On July 22, 2020, the Board of Directors approved amendments to Schedule 1 of the Act to add a presumption for infections caused by communicable viral pathogens, which are the subject of a BC-specific emergency declaration or notice. 

Consequential amendments are also made to Item C4-28.00, Contagious Diseases, and Appendix 2 of the Rehabilitation Services & Claims Manual, Volume II to reflect the Schedule 1 amendment.

 

Extension of REDMA Policy Statement 17 Application

On July 15, the Superintendent of Real Estate announced the extension of the application of Policy Statement 17 until April 30, 2021. As noted in April 2020, Policy Statement 17 allows developers to market development units that are subject to Policy Statements 5 and 6 for an extended period of twelve months instead of nine, provided that certain disclosure conditions are satisfied.

Under Policy Statement 17, which was issued effective April 17, 2020:

  • development property marketed under a disclosure statement filed under REDMA from April 17, 2020 to July 17, 2020 could 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.

With this latest announcement, the July 17, 2020 timeframe has been extended to April 30, 2021. Please note that “… all the other provisions in Policy Statements five and six, including the rights of purchasers to cancel their purchases under specified conditions after 12 months, remain in effect and are unchanged.”

 

Recommendations for B.C.’s Economic Recovery Task Force

On July 22, UDI joined several other organizations in submitting recommendations to the provincial Economic Recovery Task Force. The recommendations centered around the Province’s goals to address climate change through CleanBC, which the Premier highlighted would be a centerpiece of B.C.’s recovery planning. These included:

  • Committing to long-term, widespread, investment in voluntary financial incentives to improve energy efficiency in buildings;
  • Expanding the list of eligible energy conservation materials and equipment exempt from Provincial Sales Tax (PST); and
  • Investing in and support skilled trades training to ensure that B.C. has a diverse labour force of men and women that encourages new entrants who will have the skills for the future.

UDI and the organizations that represent key professions and stakeholders in the B.C. real estate and building sectors are committed to working with the provincial government to develop and implement efficient business solutions as B.C. advances the province-wide economic recovery efforts. By pairing recovery action with climate action through financial incentives to support energy retrofits and upgrades, this will enable our sector to build back better and create new skilled trades jobs for British Columbians.

The Economic Recovery Task Force is now reviewing all responses that have been submitted and a report is expected later this year.

For additional details, the full submission is available here.


 

July 14, 2020

Builders Lien Act (BLA)

As noted in previous newsletters, UDI responded to a B.C. Law Institute (BCLI) Consultation on proposed changes to the BLA. UDI submitted a letter outlining our support and concerns for some of the proposed changes. The BCLI has now issued its final Report on

the Builders Lien Act, and thanked UDI for its comments and recommendations. The B.C. Law Institute “… is an independent, not-for-profit society dedicated to the improvement of the law.”  Although their recommendations are not binding on government policy or legislative change, they have influenced both in the past. In this case, they were invited by the Ministry of the Attorney General to review the Builders Lien Act.


 

June 30, 2020

COVID-19 Related Measures Act

On June 22, the provincial government introduced the COVID-19 Related Measures Act. This legislation allows for the provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the pandemic to be formalized and unwound as appropriate after the provincial state of emergency ends. Currently all ministerial orders made by the solicitor general under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) end immediately at the conclusion of the provincial state of emergency. Specific orders already made will be extended in the legislation after the end of the state of emergency by 45 or 90 days. In case of a second wave of COVID-19, the act will also provide for the possibility for extension of COVID-19 related orders by up to one year after the act is brought into force, if required. See the provincial news release here. Ministerial orders made under the EPA include the Residential Tenancy Order and the Local Government Meetings and Bylaw Process.

 

Economic Stabilization Act

On June 24, in response to the fiscal impacts of COVID-19, new legislation was introduced to allow the provincial government to run deficit budgets for the next three years.  The legislation also confirms many of the previously announced supports for people and businesses from the COVID-19 Action Plan including postponing the date that late payment penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 to October 1, 2020 to give businesses and landlord more time to pay their reduced property tax, without penalty. Other measures from the B.C. COVID-19 Action Plan that are being done through regulation include the reduction of the school property tax rate for commercial properties. See the provincial news release here.

 

UDI Submission – Budget 2021

On June 26, UDI submitted a submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services for the upcoming provincial budget for 2021. UDI requested that the provincial government focus on three key areas: housing tax policy, transit and transportation funding, and the CleanBC Strategy as it relates to new development and green building infrastructure.

To summarize, UDI requested specific changes and exemptions from the host of housing tax measures that were introduced beginning in Budget 2016, including the Speculation and Vacancy Tax, Property Transfer Tax, Additional School Tax and Foreign Buyers Tax. UDI also recommended that transit investments in local communities be linked to land-use changes commensurate with those investments. One suggested avenue is to enhance the implementation of Transit Supportive Policies Agreements between TransLink and local governments that are often signed when commitments for new transit are made. Further, in alignment with the CleanBC Strategy and the province’s goal to support mass timber development – UDI recommended increased investment in local prefabrication and modular housing and the establishment of an efficient certification processes for mass timber products  as well as improvement of training of designers and construction trades to enhance familiarity with mass timber. Finally, UDI recommended that the province increase awareness of energy efficiency expectations for new and existing buildings and provide substantial incentives for projects to achieve a higher Energy Step Code targets. See here for the submission and full list of recommendations.

Strata Insurance

On June 23, the Province announced its “First steps to address rising insurance costs for strata owners,” through Bill 14, the Municipal Affairs and Housing Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2020. The Bill includes amendments to the Strata Property Act and Financial Institutions Act, and there will also be associated regulatory changes. Of particular interest is the Government’s plan to “… change the minimum required contributions made by strata unit owners and developers to a strata corporation’s contingency reserve fund…;” although this will not be done until “… after further consultation with strata community stakeholders.” The proposed legislation and regulations will allow the Government to:

  • “end the practice of referral fees between insurers or insurance brokers and strata property managers or other third parties;
  • set out clear guidelines for what strata corporations are required to insure to help strata councils make informed decisions on their insurance policies;
  • require strata corporations to inform owners about insurance coverage, provide notice of any policy changes, including increasing deductibles, and allow stratas to use their contingency reserve fund when necessary to pay for unexpected premium increases; and
  • protect strata unit owners against large lawsuits from strata corporations if the owner was legally responsible for a loss or damage, but through no fault of their own.”

In addition, the legislation allows for future regulatory changes to:

  • “identify when stratas are not required to get full insurance coverage;
  • strengthen depreciation reporting requirements, including limiting the ability to use existing loopholes in the legislation to avoid completing depreciation reports;
  • require brokers to disclose the amount of their commission, which has been reported to be at times in excess of 20%; and
  • strengthen notification requirements to strata corporations of changes to insurance coverage and costs, or an intent not to renew.”

The BC Financial Services Authority also released a June 16 interim Report on the BC Strata Property Insurance Market. They found that “Premiums have risen on average by approximately 40 per cent across the province over the past year while deductibles have increased up to triple-digits over the same period. (50 per cent in Metro Vancouver).”

A significant issue is water damage, which “… accounted for approximately 46 per cent of the total claim costs since 2017 (56 per cent alone in 2018); although the average claim was less than $3,500. Of interest to builders is the finding that “Insurers have also focused on new buildings as being of higher risk. The data sample indicated average claims cost for buildings less than five-years-old was $18,000 compared to $10,000 for all ages.” As a result, “Strata insurers are now appearing to be more reluctant to insure new buildings less than five-years-old.” They are also heavily scrutinizing buildings that are less fire resistant.

UDI will be participating in the upcoming consultations on strata insurance regulations, and will be holding a follow-up Webinar on the issue (please see the link to our April 16 Webinar: How to Mitigate the Impacts of Rising Condo Strata Insurance for the video recording and speaker presentations).


 

June 16, 2020

Foreign Buyer’s Tax (FBT)

UDI has been working with the Province on a number of initiatives concerning the Additional Property Transfer Tax for Foreign Entities & Taxable Trustees on the acquisition of residential property for redevelopment (the FBT).  

In Budget 2020, the Government announced that it would make changes to how the FBT applies to certain Limited Partnerships in which foreign limited partners may have an interest not exceeding 50% of all the interests in the limited partnership, putting these limited partnerships at par with how corporations are subject to the FBT. On May 19, the Government released Property Transfer Tax RegulationB.C. Reg. 74/88. Under this Regulation, if a general partner of a limited partnership purchases land, they are exempt from the FBT (even if an interest in the limited partnership is held by a foreign limited partner) if all of the following conditions are met:

  • On the date of transfer of the property (or other application for registration of the taxable transaction at the Land Title Office):
    • each general partner of the limited partnership is either a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada or a corporation other than a foreign corporation;
    • the combined interest in the limited partnership of all the foreign limited partners accounts for less than half of the partners’ entitlement to share in the profits of the limited partnership; and
  • Each general and limited partner of the limited partnership is a resident of Canada for income tax purposes throughout the taxation year in which the taxable transaction occurs.”

UDI is seeking changes to the Regulation, so it is retroactive to when the FBT was first introduced in August 2016, and to  ensure that the Regulation would also apply to situations where a nominee (rather than the general partner) is being used as the registered owner of the residential property being acquired for redevelopment for and on behalf of the limited partnership. 

UDI is also seeking broader exemptions under the FBT in respect of foreign builders who are actively creating residential housing supply for British Columbians.

For more information on the recent regulatory changes to the FBT, please see the updates from Bennett Jones LLP, Lawson Lundell LLP and Clark Wilson LLP.


 

June 2, 2020

Commercial Eviction Ban

On June 1, the Provincial Government announced a new Order issued on May 29 under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) that will prevent the eviction of tenants who are eligible for assistance under the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program.

Under the CECRA, “A 75% reduction in monthly rent for small businesses affected by COVID-19 is achieved by providing forgivable loans to landlords. The loans cover 50% of the rent payments for eligible small business tenants for April, May and June. The commercial tenant is responsible for covering 25%, the property owner 25%, while the federal and provincial governments share the remaining 50%.” To qualify for the program, commercial tenants must:

  • Have a 70% reduction in their revenue;
  • Have rent under $50,000 a month; and
  • Generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues.

It is UDI’s understanding that the EPA Order is not retroactive, so does not apply to circumstances in which tenants have already been evicted. UDI is seeking clarity from the Province regarding a number of issues, including how this Order could potentially impact commercial properties that are in the process of being redeveloped, and how rent deferral agreements negotiated prior to it coming into effect will be impacted after the Order is lifted. If you have any questions, please contact Marissa Chan-Kent at 604.661.3033.


 

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 codequestion@gov.bc.ca.

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.

 

CleanBC

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.

 

BC Liberal Opposition Introduce Assessment (Split Assessment Classification) Amendment Act, 2019

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.

Please see this letter and backgrounder from the Province’s Building Safety and Standards Branch. UDI will keep members apprised of updates of this important initiative.


 

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;
  • Colwood;
  • Surrey;
  • Abbotsford;
  • Campbell River;
  • Langford;
  • Richmond;
  • Kelowna;
  • Mission;
  • Victoria; and
  • Saanich.

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

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5257633007699447307

Tuesday, September 17 – 2:00 to 3:00

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6969259251332934155

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 kelli.larsen@gov.bc.ca

 

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.public.review@gov.bc.ca.


 

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.

The Preliminary Program is now available, as is information on sponsorship and being an exhibiter. If you are interested in attending the Conference, please register here.


 

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 ardith.gingell@gov.bc.ca 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.

The Preliminary Program is now available, as is information on sponsorship and being an exhibiter. If you are interested in attending the Conference, please register here.


 

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:

View System Requirements

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.

 

CleanBC Plan

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:

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

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:

 

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;
  • Replicability;
  • 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.

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