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OPINION: Greater Victoria politicians can’t keep housing crisis from doorstep

Vancouver council makes Shaughnessy off-limits to increased density
New legislation will allow increased density on many properties currently zoned for single-family only. (Black Press Media file photo)

The fear of being unable to put a roof over your family’s head is turning into reality for an ever-growing number of British Columbians. But too many B.C. communities see housing unaffordability as a problem that ends at their doorstep.

The provincial government has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at bringing skyrocketing housing costs back down to earth.

New rules governing short-term rentals are set to take effect in May that would limit the accommodations to owners’ principal residences and bring in tougher penalties for violators.

Legislation unveiled this month will require municipalities with over 5,000 people to update zoning bylaws to allow for up to four units on a standard residential lot. Further legislation calls for the designation of Transit Oriented Development areas that would bring buildings up to 10 storeys within 200 metres of bus exchanges in mid-sized cities such as Victoria.

This sweeping new legislation has proven to be too much for many civic politicians who want the more affluent neighbourhoods in their community to remain a safe enclave for the crisis unfolding outside their stately doors.

Vancouver councillors shot down a motion Nov. 15 seeking to increase density in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood, home to some of the priciest real estate in the province. Coun. Christine Boyle introduced the motion, pointing out that while the city’s population has swelled the number of people living in Shaughnessy has actually declined.

A heritage conservation area designation has made the neighbourhood immune from previous city legislation allowing multiplex homes. It’s unclear whether the new provincial legislation would override Shaughessy’s current land-use policies.

Shaughnessy residents are not alone in their opposition to the pending changes, and the fears expressed there have echoed through other parts of the province. Many decry the loss of single-family homes and express the desire to have a yard of their own. But the legislation does not prevent anyone from living in a single-family home, it merely prevents them from dictating that their neighbour must do the same.

ALSO READ: B.C. aims to increase housing density around rapid transit, bus exchanges