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Could New Zealand's radical new housing law help Canada curb its skyrocketing real estate prices? – National Post

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New Zealand is currently plagued by a real estate market that is even more unaffordable than Canada’s

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A radical new law intended to reduce New Zealand’s infamous housing crunch could well be a model for how Canada could curb its ever-skyrocketing real estate prices, according to experts contacted by the National Post.

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This week, in a rare bipartisan action, the New Zealand government introduced measures to quash “overly restrictive planning rules” that hinder development in urban cores.

New Zealanders may now develop up to 50 per cent of their land — and build up to three storeys — without requiring consent from municipal authorities. The reforms also unleash landowners to build up to three homes per lot in areas that previously restricted those lots to one or two homes.

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While the measures do not mandate development of existing homes, they mean that New Zealanders now have much more freedom to build on their land without butting up against municipal planning laws. A similar law applied to Vancouver and Toronto, for instance, would automatically free builders from the need to seek local approval for a laneway house.

A government-commissioned analysis by Pricewaterhouse Coopers has estimated that the new measures will spur a building boom expected to add between 48,200 and 105,500 new units of housing in New Zealand by the end of the decade.

“I think reforms like this would likely help increase Canadian housing stock quite a bit,” Nathanael Lauster, a housing density researcher at the University of British Columbia, told the Post.

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Lauster helped created the Metro Vancouver Zoning Project , an effort to meticulously document zoning laws in Canada’s third largest city. What the project has revealed is that the vast majority of land in Vancouver is zoned for single family homes, effectively making densification illegal in much of Canada’s most unaffordable real estate market.

A screenshot of the Metro Vancouver Zoning Project. Every patch of yellow indicates where it’s illegal to build anything except a detached home or duplex.
A screenshot of the Metro Vancouver Zoning Project. Every patch of yellow indicates where it’s illegal to build anything except a detached home or duplex. Photo by Metro Vancouver Housing Project

In an extensive analysis of New Zealand’s new housing reforms, Lauster called them a “welcome new model” for stripping “exclusionary” powers from the hands of local governments, which disproportionately favour the interests of existing homeowners. “It’s relatively easy for municipal politics to become captured by those most resistant to change and greater inclusion,” he wrote.

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New Zealand’s new measures were supported both by its Labour Party government and its conservative National Party opposition. Tellingly, the policy’s official launch was attended by National Party Leader Judith Collins.

“National supports this policy because it focuses on supply. Rather than making life harder for property owners, this policy tells them that you have the right to build,” Collins told a Tuesday press conference .

The National Party leader also struck out at Kiwis who opposed the law on the grounds that it would strip communities of their “character.” “Our communities lose their character when people can’t afford to own their own home,” she said.

New Zealand is currently plagued by a real estate market that is even more unaffordable than Canada’s. The gap between New Zealand’s average incomes and its average real estate cost is currently among the highest in the OECD .

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Notably, the problem continues to grow despite the fact that New Zealand maintains strict controls on foreign ownership. In 2018, the country banned non-residents from purchasing pre-existing New Zealand real estate, although foreigners are given limited reign to purchase new builds.

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Canada’s already overheated real estate market is on a fast track to match New Zealand for unaffordability. In just the last year, average Canadian home prices soared by an incredible 21.4 per cent .

The singular reason for this is lack of supply. Canada has the lowest number of housing units per capita than any other country in the G7, a ratio that is only getting worse as lacklustre housing development is met with massive population growth.

In Canada, any law to defang municipal zoning laws would need to come from the provinces. With New Zealand having a population of only five million, its national government often makes decisions that would be considered regional issues in Canada.

However, there is strong precedent to show that Canadian provinces have relatively free reign to steamroll municipal laws whenever they want to.

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One of the starkest recent examples was when the province of Ontario abruptly cut the size of Toronto City Council in half.

While the City of Toronto took the issue to court framing it as an undemocratic coup, just this month the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Ontario acted constitutionally.

In the recent Canadian federal election, all three major parties debuted housing plans that mostly skirted around the issue of municipal barriers to development. The Conservatives proposed tying federal transit funding to a city’s willingness to densify, but there were no blunt New Zealand-style promises to override onerous local zoning laws

“If there was a blanket up-zoning of land in Canadian metropolitan areas, it would lead to an increase in the housing stock,” said Steve Lafleur, an analyst specializing in housing affordability at the Fraser Institute.

The libertarian-minded Fraser Institute isn’t one to advocate stricter government control of an economic sector, and Lafleur said that provincial “micromanaging” of local zoning would not be ideal. Nevertheless, he said, “given immense demand for housing, it is impossible to believe that there would not be a boom … if denser housing were allowed.”

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Canada’s Real Estate Bubble Is Getting Even More Irrational: US Federal Reserve Data – Better Dwelling

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Canada’s Real Estate Bubble Is Getting Even More Irrational: US Federal Reserve Data  Better Dwelling



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New Zealand Real Estate Investors Pull Back After Policy Changes, Price Growth Slows – Better Dwelling

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Real estate board donates to Inn of the Shepherd – Woodstock Sentinel Review

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Members of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board presented a cheque for $2,000 to the Inn of the Good Shepherd as part of Realtor’s Care Week celebrations on Nov. 19.

During the national week, local realtors are encouraged to do good turns in their community.

Funds given to the Inn will help feed the 170 individuals in the care of the Inn, up significantly since the beginning of the pandemic.

Representatives of the Inn thanked the realtors for their donation as well as for their involvement year round in activities such as the annual CANstruction fundraiser as well as food drives.

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