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GUEST COLUMN: Government caused housing mess and now wants to fix it?

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Mario Fazio

The federal election is on Sept. 20 and all of the parties have housing “how-to-fix-its” in their platforms.

Mario Fazio

You know we have a problem when governments have ideas on how to correct things, especially when they caused them to begin with.

All levels of government are the causation of the shortage and rise in housing prices in Canada. In 1967 Canada’s population hit 20 million. New housing in the ‘60s and ‘70s averaged 125,000 to 200,000 units annually.

Fast-forward to today and Canada’s population is 38 million people (2020 Census) yet our annual housing starts have stayed virtually the same, at 125,000 to 200,000 annually. (There might be a slight uptick in units built so far in 2021).

We can look at all the current factors in today’s housing shortages and price increases, and they all points back to government interference and overregulation in all the wrong places.

Back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s government legislated rent controls, which resulted in a virtual stoppage of new rental housing being built and a supply shortage.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, massive new regulations in zoning and restrictions on where new housing could be built caused more shortages.

At the turn of the century the focus turned to environmental and archeological concerns, further delaying and limiting where new housing could be built, causing more housing shortages.

All the while, Canada’s population was growing faster than housing stock was being built. People coming in from all over the world and settling in the same locations made the problem worse.

Governments are now blaming foreign buyers, greedy developers/builders, and unscrupulous realtors for the current state of affairs. They are trying to manipulate all the wrong things to correct the problems because they don’t fundamentally understand the problems they have created.

Obviously, some regulations are good and necessary: better rent controls that protect both tenants and landlords in a free open market; less constrictive zoning to allow more housing in more areas with infilling and multiple uses; sensible environmental controls that are actually doable and effective; and less studying, consulting and digging for problems that put up roadblocks to any new housing.

Looking at the housing situation in Japan (where land is scarce) while the Tokyo Olympics were on showed us they have one of the best, abundant and affordable housing models anywhere. We would be wise to study what they’re doing right and copy some of the ideas.

All of the national parties have some good, as well as some very bad ideas. Choosing the right ideas is fairly simple if you look realistically at the cause of our current housing situation.

Please, go out and Vote!

Mario Fazio has been building, developing, and selling homes in Sarnia-Lambton for more than 45 years.

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