One of those experts hails from a city often compared to Vancouver, both for its seaside good looks, and for its housing challenges: Sydney, Australia.
Down Under, they’re tackling the problem a little bit differently.
Sarah Hill is the CEO of the Greater Sydney Commission, a body formed last year to govern planning decisions for that city’s equivalent of Metro Vancouver, and tasked with the ambitious goal of adding more than 600,000 new homes to the market by 2031.
Hill says the GSC is looking at a spectrum of solutions, from market through to social housing but that the key to their work is bringing a regional perspective.
“The issues are common across greater Sydney, but also really importantly the approach needs to be consistent. We need a holistic view, and that’s really the fundamental importance of setting up a commission such as the Greater Sidney Commission.”
Hill says that consistency is built by connecting connecting all three levels of government, to coordinate and collaborate on housing solutions.
She admits that’s not always easy, with each municipality having its own pressures and concerns.
“Local communities are very passionate, they’re very concerned about what’s happening and changing in their area, and so for that reason from day one we’ve been out talking to people.”
With the GSC just a year old, Hill says it will take time to build the trust of those communities, something she thinks will happen as they begin to see improvements.
Just like Vancouver, Sydney’s beauty and proximity to Asia has made it a popular destination for foreign investment.
Hill says that issue is top of mind, but involves a balancing act because while it’s linked to housing challenges it’s also a part of the city’s economic success.
She says one response has been to increase the Stamp Duty, their version of the property transfer tax – but she says not to the scale of B.C.’s foreign buyers tax.
Hill says Sydney is also grappling with supply issues, but says from her perspective supply alone won’t solve their affordability problems.
“I’m the first to say it is part of the solution, it’s not the whole solution.”
She says while Sydney is hitting a record level of new supply, that accounts for just 2% of the market which hasn’t made a big dent.
“In fact, what we’re seeing at the moment, even with increased supply levels in Sydney, house prices are continuing to go up.”