The NDP’s 2018 B.C. budget makes a long-term commitment to address the housing crisis. News file photo

The NDP’s 2018 B.C. budget makes a long-term commitment to address the housing crisis. News file photo

Editorial: The $1.6-billion question — is the 2018 housing budget enough?

After decades of bad practises, the real estate market must recover before it thrives.

There are two things that most people here agree on: Vancouver Island is one of the most desirable places to live in Canada and the B.C. housing market is increasingly narrow.

In 2018, Victoria claimed the titles of the second-most unaffordable housing city in Canada and the most romantic. It’s no secret that the average resident has to work very hard to achieve their piece of Vancouver Island paradise.

With prospective purchasers competing at times against foreign buyers and always against the high cost of living, the market — both outside and especially inside the Capital — has left many feeling like they are scrambling for whatever they can find.

The 2018 provincial budget has pledged $1.6 billion toward affordable housing over the next three years. This is in addition to B.C.’s $6-billion commitment to build 114,000 units over the next decade. The budget includes upgrades to the community housing sector, including more rental grants for seniors and housing for low income families.

The 15- to 20-per-cent increase in the foreign buyers tax, which extends to the Greater Victoria and Nanaimo regions, is a solid effort to support local ownership and cool down the overheated real estate market.

In their budget the NDP even considered how to stymie dodgy real estate practices such as the sale and resale of new units to inflate the price.

On paper, this budget lays out a promising path to overall affordability for middle and lower-income residents, both home buyers and renters. But is it enough to help the Average Jane or Joe, or a case of too little, too late?

While any efforts toward building a sustainable housing model are appreciated, Vancouver Island’s owned and rental housing markets are in dire need of adjustment, changes that will take time to affect the current crisis.

While the B.C. budget is not the sure-fire quick solution we could use at this time – few budgets are – we can now see a pathway out.

— Victoria News/Black Press

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