With portions of its home province burning, the BC Real Estate Association is suggesting politicians try harder to tie housing affordability to climate change.
“This summer British Columbia experienced the worst heatwave in our recorded history and what could end up being the most devastating wildfire season ever,” chief executive officer Darlene Hyde wrote. “If there were any doubts about the very real impacts of climate change, they should be erased. Canadians want to see real action on climate change, and they want to see it now.”
It sounds like a stretch. But the association said building houses far from employment and city centres is contributing to climate change, so builders should instead focus on filling in existing communities with buildings that can accommodate several families, rather than single family homes.
This would lead to lower prices for houses, Hyde argues, because these units can be built quickly in established neighbourhoods for first-time buyers and empty nesters who want to sell their houses to downsize but also stay in the same area.
“It would be irresponsible to look at solutions to Canada’s housing supply crisis without looking at how these fixes affect the climate,” Hyde wrote. “In fact, by looking at the two together, we are more likely to explore creative solutions that will make the long-lasting change that is needed in both areas.”
Here’s how the statement explains the plan: “Alongside market conditions, the current landscape of housing is not helping the climate crisis. Single-family dwellings generally consume more energy and emit more greenhouse gases per square foot of livable area than townhouses or apartment units built under the same building code. It’s also generally true that most single-family homes are built in areas that are further from employment centres and are not within easy walking distance from commonly used retail and service outlets, recreation or entertainment amenities. The result is an increased reliance on cars for transportation, again resulting in more greenhouse gases.”