Calgary Herald

Affordabil­ity seen as election issue


As the clock ticks closer to the Alberta election April 23, the province’s homebuilde­rs wants issues such as housing affordabil­ity — and the need for skilled constructi­on labour — to be on the radar of candidates.

“We sit back and watch what they’re doing and what they’re talking about,” says president Sandra Young of the Canadian Home Builders’ Associatio­n-alberta.

The cost of skilled labour is “a big issue,” she says, adding there are currently challenges in accessing and retaining such people.

“It’s a primary challenge to housing affordabil­ity right now,” says Young.

The CHBA wants the province to work with the federal government to streamline a process that will help attract skilled workers.

Protecting consumers through a move to mandatory warranty coverage for new homes is another pressing concern, says Young.

Warranty programs protect homebuyers should something go wrong with their new homes.

Although such programs are mandatory for members of the CHBA, they are otherwise voluntary.

During the past year, the Alberta government conducted conciliati­on on implementi­ng mandatory warranty coverage.

The CHBA is looking for provincial legislatio­n to be implemente­d on the issue.

However, during the conciliati­on process, the idea of an exemption for owner-builders was brought forward.

The revision is not supported by Chba-alberta, says Young.

“This would compromise the actual consumer protection piece with this initiative,” she says.

If or when changes are made to the provincial Municipal Government Act, Young says the CHBA also wants to play a role in what form the changes will take — in particular, the role it may play on the cost of levies.

The housing industry has repeatedly voiced concerns about how municipali­ties such as the City of Calgary are implementi­ng lot levies to pay for infrastruc­ture needed for new communitie­s.

Such levies are ultimately paid for by the purchasers of new homes in the form of higher prices.

Builders and developers have argued that housing affordabil­ity is being eroded because new homeowners are ending up with the bill for things that should more properly be paid for by all taxpayers.

“There is a need for those benefiting from the expansion to contribute to infrastruc­ture, but the line has to be drawn when (municipali­ties) start including fire stations and rec centres,” says Young.

“As well, it is too easy to tax a citizen that doesn’t live there — i.e., the unknown taxpayer — because there is no need to account to those rate payers since they are not there.”

The industry has suggested that the burden for such projects should instead be borne by all city taxpayers.

“It’s about creating sustainabl­e systems that work for the entire taxpayer base,” says Young.

The CHBA also wants political parties to address issues such as seniors housing, worker safety, energy efficiency and interpreta­tion of the fire code.

 ??  ?? The province’s homebuilde­rs want the Alberta government to work with Ottawa to streamline a process that will attract more skilled workers.
The province’s homebuilde­rs want the Alberta government to work with Ottawa to streamline a process that will attract more skilled workers.
 ?? Photos, Calgary Herald Archive ??
Photos, Calgary Herald Archive

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