White Rock council – in its Governance and Legislation Committee role Monday night – unanimously endorsed a resolution on skyrocketing strata insurance rates that committee chair Coun. Anthony Manning admits is “mainly symbolic.”
The city’s resolution, to be sent to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association, calls on B.C.’s provincial government to act “swiftly and decisively to create a risk-sharing model that would return strata insurance premiums and owner deductibles to 2019 levels, adjusted for inflation.”
The resolution notes that strata corporations have seen insurance premiums shoot up by as much as several hundred per cent this year, and strata owners have seen a similar exponential rise in deductibles, partly because of insurers’ aversion to climate change-related risk.
But as Manning – also chair of the city’s Housing Advisory Committee – pointed out following the meeting, the crisis is not only financially catastrophic for strata corporations and their members as well as individual owners.
More than that, he said, it also imperils the concept of strata developments as a more affordable, better land use choice within communities, while shrinking the supply of multi-unit homes as a viable housing option in B.C.
The snag, he said, is that, under B.C.’s Local Government Act, individual cities and municipalities such as White Rock have no powers to address the situation.
“The LGA is a curious beast – a very colonial institution,” he said, noting that only Vancouver, with its own charter, has the ability to act outside of most provisions of the legislation.
“But something needs to be done.”
The association sent out a call for resolutions from local governments on province-wide issues in January, reminding its 33 member governments that resolutions received from the LMLGA – and supported by members as a whole –tend to carry more weight than those submitted by individual communities.
Manning told council that he placed the resolution on the agenda to take advantage of the window of opportunity to make a submission to the LMLGA.
“If the LMLGA endorses tonight’s council resolution it will be brought forward to the Union of BC Municipalities in September,” Manning said following the meeting, adding that he’s aware that it might go no further than that.
“A resolution endorsed by the UBCM must still be tabled as legislation in Victoria (and) there’s no guarantee that parliament will act on it,” he said.
But Manning said he feels the issue of unchecked strata insurance rate increases is looming “larger by the day”
“Hopefully the province will step in long before then,” he said.