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Greater Victoria, BC News


Date ArticleType
3/1/2017 Published Article
Staying in the home you love

All homeowners will eventually find their current home no longer meets their needs due to factors such as space, cost, and accessibility. Faced with a shortage of homes available for purchase and strong competition for that short supply, homeowners may decide to renovate rather than move, keeping them in the home/area they love. This is good for our community and economy. Renovations help provide stability in the housing market, create jobs, add to tax revenues, support local businesses, even contribute to local and higher governments’ climate change goals.

Greater Victoria has lots of homes that may benefit from renovations. According to recent Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) data, 87 percent of the housing stock in Greater Victoria was built before the year 2000, when higher standards were added to the building code. Of that number, CMHC estimates there are 84,550 occupied private dwellings that are in need of repair.

In addition, Victoria Residential Builders Association says retrofitting older homes could help maximize a community’s overall reduction to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

"CMHC studies demonstrate that older homes may undergo up to 40 air changes per hour, while a new Built Green home will have 3 air changes or less," said Casey Edge, Executive Director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association. "Reducing air changes in the majority of our older housing stock would have the greatest impact on greenhouse gas reduction."

There are two home renovation tax credits currently available to B.C. homeowners, both of which are about improving accessibility for seniors and those with mobility needs.

The Chamber believes the provincial and federal governments can build on these programs by introducing similar renovation tax credits focused on areas of policy interest, such as encouraging first-time homebuyers to renovate “fixer uppers” and improving the energy efficiency of the housing stock.

Such a tax credit can have a range of benefits over and above those flowing from the renovations alone. For example, home renovation tax credit programs:

• encourage use of professional contractors for abatement of hazardous materials such as lead or asbestos found in insulation, stucco, drywall mud, roof shingles, floor tiles, electrical wires, cement,

• are an effective method for combatting underground “cash” operators, as homeowners require receipts to qualify, which helps keep both the contract value and revenue in the legitimate economy, and

• on older homes are the most affordable, effective way to increase energy efficiency in the overall housing stock and to reduce GHG emissions, allowing governments to demonstrate climate leadership.

With the election looming in May, candidates are busy identifying the issues that resonate with their electoral base. And British Columbians are eager to see who is going to say - and do - what. This means there are opportunities to speak up, to make change.

With our strong economy, growing population, and soaring home prices, this is an opportunity worth considering.

Catherine Holt is the CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. 250-383-7191,,

Published in March Business Examiner


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