Af­ford­abil­ity key to strong lo­cal hous­ing mar­ket

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

AS we start a new year, I thought it might be ben­e­fi­cial to look at what’s hap­pen­ing, what could hap­pen, and what should hap­pen with hous­ing in Win­nipeg and through­out Man­i­toba. I was de­lighted to hear of Canada’s com­mit­ment re­cently to lower green­house gasses and be­come more en­ergy ef­fi­cient. We build Canada’s most en­ergy ef­fi­cient homes in Man­i­toba and will con­tinue to do so. Be­tween 1990 and 2005, the en­ergy ef­fi­ciency of Man­i­toba homes in­creased by 21.6 per cent while cut­ting GHG emis­sions by 31.3 per cent. Man­i­toba Hy­dro’s Power Smart for New Homes has been re-launched; Man­i­toba builders ben­e­fited from the Lo­cal En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency Part­ner­ship process and Man­i­toba builders will con­tinue to be at the fore­front of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. A new build­ing code will be re­viewed this year. A very thor­ough re­view process is con­ducted by the Of­fice of the Fire Com­mis­sioner and the Man­i­toba Build­ing Stan­dards Board with all par­ties hav­ing in­put be­fore im­ple­men­ta­tion. We have some unique weather and soil con­di­tions in Man­i­toba which make any na­tional re­view more re­gional in scope. Man­i­toba’s new home war­ranty leg­is­la­tion will be fi­nal­ized some­time this year. The act has been passed and the reg­u­la­tions are close to be­ing fin­ished, but there are still a few sig­nif­i­cant ar­eas to be cor­rected and fi­nal­ized be­fore be­ing ap­proved. When th­ese are tweaked by both gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try, all that will re­main are the per­for­mance stan­dards, most of which al­ready ex­ist. The City of Win­nipeg will have re­vised and up­dated De­vel­op­ment Agree­ment Pa­ram­e­ters be­fore sum­mer. This doc­u­ment has not been re­vised since 2002 and is the tem­plate to de­ter­mine who pays for what in a new neigh­bour­hood. Cur­rently, the de­vel­oper pays for all in­fra­struc­ture costs within the de­vel­op­ment in­clud­ing roads, sewer, hy­dro, side­walks, lights, trees, gas, streets, drainage and other ameni­ties. You may re­call that a pre­vi­ous city coun­cil at­tempted to im­ple­ment an ar­bi­trary tax on new homes, of­ten called a new neigh­bour tax, with­out go­ing through this re­view process. The provin­cial gov­ern­ment rightly de­clared the ran­dom cre­ation and im­po­si­tion of new taxes was not within the purview of the city. Of course, given that 27.5 per cent of the cost of a new home con­sists of per­mits, fees and taxes that go to the three lev­els of gov­ern­ment, it is fairly ob­vi­ous that no new charges should be im­ple­mented with­out a full re­view be­ing com­pleted. Af­ford­abil­ity will re­main the key fo­cus of the Man­i­toba Home Builders As­so­ci­a­tion in 2016 and be­yond. Man­i­toba and Win­nipeg have been at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tions to ex­ist­ing pop­u­la­tion, im­mi­grants and those look­ing to re­turn or re­lo­cate due to our hous­ing costs and qual­ity of liv­ing. Con­tin­ued em­pha­sis on en­sur­ing that our young peo­ple and new cit­i­zens can af­ford to live here will be key in 2016. Time will tell if we can suc­ceed on all lev­els.

Mike Moore is pres­i­dent of the Man­i­toba Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion

JOE BRYKSA / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

A & S Homes. 327 Stan Bailie Drive, South Pointe.

Con­tin­ued low prices and good build qual­ity play key roles in the fu­ture of the prov­ince’s hous­ing mar­ket.

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