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Rental shortage an issue across Canada
May 06, 2011
With the outcome of the recent election, the meeting this weekend of REALTORS® from across the country in Ottawa to discuss federal issues should prove most interesting. 
Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien will be among the guests invited by the Canadian Real Estate Association to discuss the election and offer insights into the new Parliament.
For REALTORS®, the health and vibrancy of our economy is always front and centre due to its importance to Canadians’ ability to purchase homes. 
As well, anything legislatively or regulatory that affects the housing market receives attention at these annual political action meetings in Ottawa . 
One of the real side benefits is sharing information about how other local or provincial REALTOR® associations are dealing with issues that have an effect across Canada. A good example is the current rental housing shortage. 
The Victoria Real Estate Board and Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board are both active on this issue. WinnipegREALTORS® representatives look forward to discussing how they are addressing rental shortages in their respective markets. 
In greater Vancouver, a rental housing supply coalition has been formed with participation from a wide spectrum of housing stakeholders. A platform outlining the problem and potential solutions has also been developed. 
One potential solution suggested is to urge the B.C. provincial government to request that the federal government:
• Provide tax incentives and change tax policy to stimulate the construction of, and investment in rental housing, such as reinstating the ability to defer capital gains tax upon reinvestment, accelerate depreciation, deduct losses against other income, and permitting GST/HST exemption.
Implement a National Housing Strategy that will bring together stakeholders on increasing affordable rental housing supply.
Increase the viability of non-profit and co-op housing construction through direct capital investment and long-term low-cost financing.
Beyond these requests to the federal government, the rental housing supply coalition is recommending that the provincial government change property assessment and tax practices that disadvantage new and existing rental housing, such as over-valuation of rental properties as strata properties. They also want to create incentives for non-market affordable rental housing construction by developing a financing program similar to Infrastructure Ontario’s loan program that provides long-term, low-cost direct government financing for non-profit and co-op housing. 
Another recommendation agreed upon is to ask the B.C. government to assess its surplus land holdings, including a review of surplus school properties, to determine land suitable for rental housing.
Jim Bennett, the Victoria Real Estate Board’s head of government relations, is in his fourth year as chair of a similar rental supply coalition group in the Greater Victoria area. He has already contacted WinnipegREALTORS® to commend them on their recent rental housing discussion paper (available under Resources at www.winnipegrealtors.ca). He looks forward to meeting with representatives of the association in Ottawa to discuss common community-level issues.
Manitoba Housing and Community Development Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross is committed to forming a rental housing working group in Manitoba. It will involve participation of WinnipegREALTORS® and other key housing stakeholders.
WinnipegREALTORS® and Manitoba Real Estate Association political action representatives intend to take advantage of every opportunity to not only understand what is happening in our country on the federal front, but exchange ideas and thoughts on local matters with  colleagues from coast-to-coast.