There was a time in our history, a magical time, where governments chased full employment instead of low inflation. Where it was expected that every family should own a modest lot with a modest house. Where land was cheap, and market housing was affordable. What happened?
Today, real wages have not gone up in decades. The cost of a house is a lifetime of income in many cities, and rent is more than a full time minimum wage income. “Well that is just the market” you hear the established generations condescend. Sometimes followed with the implication “so pick yourself up by your own bootstraps like we did.”
I am not going to say who is right or wrong in the never-ending battle of generational interests and values, but I want to point out some cold hard facts regarding real estate, specifically how it relates to our own town.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s Valemount doubled in size. 7Th, 8th, 9th and 14th Avenues were added. Incredible growth to say the least, and it was complemented by real wages that made it possible to buy a lot after only 6 months of serious savings. Those were good times! But you know, markets…. it is just the way it was, right? WRONG! How did this village bring on so many lots in such a short period of time? Those lots were all serviced on the PUBLIC dime. And why not? Just amortize the cost of servicing the new avenues over 30 years of taxes and fees. I mean, the lot is not going anywhere. The town can set the Mill Rate at whatever is needed.
So why today, in 2018, is the price of a new lot suddenly $100,000 or no developer will bother subdividing? Well how much does it cost to front the costs of, roads, water, sewer, hydro, pavement and curbs…that is right, curbs? Now how much rate of return is reasonable for someone to front all of this risk and cost? Don’t blame the subdividers. Blame us! We are the ones who have bought in the ridiculous notion that markets themselves are a measure of “Truth” or “Right” or legitimate arbitration. Why don’t we ask the next generation what they want? Curbs? Why demand curbs? Only 5th Avenue has curbs. There is absolutely no reason why there cannot be new $50,000 residential lots in Valemount. We are not limited for space. We have tonnes of Urban Reserve. It is nothing but a matter of political will.
And as for the notion of “socialized housing” or banning “evil foreign buyers,” stop wasting our political time! Build new subdivisions! Relax requirements. If younger people want to take a risk on a sketchy road, but it comes at a reduced price…so be it. We can slowly improve this road over time…like the last generations got to do. Curbs? Ridiculous! And just like the last generation, young people need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps – this time by demanding that the government service their lots for them.
I live in Canada for “stakes in the ground” ownership. If I wanted to live in socialized housing, make a wage, never get ahead, but enjoy good coffee and beer while working my life away, I would move to Europe where there is much better food and drink. Likewise since when is it tolerable to ban Canadians from building their own house? It is time to bring on more stock. And not just 5 lots here and there, it is time to double the size of Valemount, on the public dime amortized over 30 years….just like the last “self-made” generation did.