Affordability key to strong local housing market
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
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.