Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun

Housing market unhealthy, Abbotsford mayor says

Braun says he is surprised ‘bubble’ hasn’t popped yet

The Lower Mainland is in the midst of an unsustainable “housing bubble” that is unlikely to continue, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said last week during a discussion about a new affordable housing strategy for the city.

Braun also was skeptical about the suggestion that the city might increase fees charged to developers and use that money to help build more housing for low-income residents.

That suggestion had been made in a report by G.P. Rollo and Associates, a consultancy tasked by the city to research the local housing market.

Braun and members of council expressed concern that increases to developer cost charges (DCCs) would be passed on to homebuyers, thereby raising the price of a home even further out of the reach of some.

G.P. Rollo and Associates’ Gerry Mulholland said those additional costs might come out of either the profit of a building, or be factored into the purchase price of land.

But Braun wasn’t so sure.

“I don’t necessarily disagree with you about that in a stable housing market. We are not in a healthy market,” he said “We are in a bubble, and I’m surprised it hasn’t burst yet.”

The G.P. Rollo report suggested that by 2035, almost all housing will be unaffordable for the one-quarter of Abbotsford’s population making less than $40,000. Housing advocates generally define unaffordable housing costs as those that exceed 30 per cent of one’s income.

The G.P. Rollo and Associates report said an annual investment of $700,000 could help the city chip in money towards the building of 15 units of affordable housing each year.

Braun, though, said that would be a drop in the bucket. He said creating incentives for the building of more housing could do more to address the shortfall.

And he said the city has to be careful not to discourage the building of new rental housing. The city has the lowest rental vacancy rate in the country.

Referring to two long-shuttered incentive programs, Braun said the federal government should look at bringing back tax incentives to encourage investors to put money into the construction of new rental buildings.

“I think that’s one way to mobilize our country,” he said.

Council and the city consultants both agreed that an affordable housing strategy should focus on addressing the cost and availability of homes for those on the bottom end of the income spectrum.

While the draft of a new affordable housing strategy is expected to come before council this summer, reviews of development cost charges, amenity contributions and density bonuses are slated for 2019. Those items could result in more incentives for developers to build certain types of housing, or revisions to the developer fees charged by the city.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

MNET Radio Music Festival 18 comes to Mission

Event on Aug. 24 and 25, but Thunderfest first on Aug. 18

First Avenue improvement project moves into third phase

Mission downtown revitalization project now past halfway point

Outlaws opening exhibition schedule

Mission plays three games in three days

Take-home naloxone may be replacing 911 calls in Fraser Health area

Naloxone kits handed out up 29% over 2017, ambulance calls and emergency visits down 22-24%, deaths hold steady

Wichita Trip and Kenny Hess at Twilight Concert Series

Performances on Aug. 17 and 22 at Fraser River Heritage Park

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

VIDEO: World of Magic coming to Vancouver

Seven magic shows will appear at the Vancouver Playhouse from September 7 to 9

Safeway union urges prejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

VIDEO: RibFest kicks off in Langley

Free event features barbecue ribs, chicken, pork and brisket from Canada’s top rib artists

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Most Read