Win­nipeg must bal­ance sup­ply and de­mand

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Mike Moore

IN Win­nipeg, we tend to take choice of hous­ing for granted. We have a good mix of multi-fam­ily choices. We can also choose among var­i­ous types of sin­gle fam­ily de­tached homes. We also have the choice of new neigh­bour­hoods be­ing de­vel­oped in the city. Not so in Toronto and Van­cou­ver. In the Greater Toronto Area, the cost of build­ing a new sin­gle fam­ily de­tached home is closing in on $1 mil­lion un­less one is will­ing to com­mute from Kitch­ener, Hamil­ton or Bar­rie. Con­dos are the ma­jor­ity of starts within the GTA and town­homes are the clos­est one can hope to find that re­sem­bles a sin­gle fam­ily home. Land costs and land use poli­cies have re­duced sin­gle fam­ily starts in the GTA to around three times what we ex­pect in Win­nipeg; this, from a metropoli­tan area 10 times our size in pop­u­la­tion. The re­sul­tant lack of choice leads to a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in prices. It’s sim­ple sup­ply and de­mand. Van­cou­ver seems to have a dif­fer­ent scape­goat for ris­ing house prices: for­eign in­vestors. A re­cent project, Van­cou­ver House, was mar­keted around the world and, to date, 35 per cent of the units have been pur­chased by for­eign in­vestors. Some Van­cou­verites blame for­eign spec­u­la­tion for the 35 per cent in­crease in prop­erty value since 2009. Burn­aby NDP MP Kennedy Ste­wart has tabled a mo­tion call­ing for a gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the im­pact of in­vestor spec­u­la­tion. Van­cou­ver Mayor Gre­gor Robert­son has sug­gested im­ple­ment­ing a spec­u­la­tion tax on hous­ing spec­u­la­tors to stem the rise in prices. If we im­ple­ment detri­men­tal land cost and land use poli­cies such as has hap­pened in the GTA, devel­op­ment changes to less-de­sir­able op­tions or stops com­pletely. When this hap­pens, de­mand goes up for what cur­rently ex­ists. When sup­ply goes down and de­mand goes up, prices soar. Win­nipeg needs to con­tinue to grow while main­tain­ing af­ford­abil­ity and choice for all cur­rent and fu­ture res­i­dents.

Mike Moore is pres­i­dent of the Man­i­toba Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion

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