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April 26, 2018

Construction labour shortage in B.C. is a massive barrier to new housing development

Even with good intentions, appropriate funding and expedited permitting processes, there simply aren’t enough construction tradespeople to build all the homes required to meet B.C.’s housing targets, according to a group of industry experts.

Speaking to a huge audience at the Vancouver Real Estate Forum April 25 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, at a panel event on housing affordability, Concert Properties CEO and panel moderator Brian McCauley raised the issue of labour shortages as a key barrier to meeting the NDP government’s target of 114,000 affordable homes in 10 years.

McCauley said, “You hear on a daily basis about labour shortages, escalating construction costs… Just the provincial government program alone, wanting to build 114,000 affordable homes in the next 10 years, would require double the output of the current infrastructure in the building industry… We can’t ignore the fact that we just don’t have the capacity to build housing as fast as we need to.”

Greg Moore, Mayor of Port Coquitlam and chair of Metro Vancouver Board of Directors, replied, “You nailed it, and I think it’s going to get worse going forward [when you factor in other major infrastructure projects]… There’s a huge issue there for all of us. Whether we’re building infrastructure for our communities or housing in our communities, [the labour shortage] is one of the major issues we should be discussing.”

Anne McMullin, president and CEO of the Urban Development Institute, added, “In our discussions with the B.C. government since the provincial budget came out, I don’t think there’s really that recognition. Exactly how are we going to build this? We keep saying… let alone getting approvals, how are we going to get this done? The development industry needs to address this, but also the provincial government needs to address this, whether it’s with training or recruitment.”
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