B.C. premier addresses housing crisis, ignores foreign ownership
Published Saturday, June 25, 2016 5:59PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 25, 2016 6:50PM PDT
B.C. Premier Christy Clark is addressing the issue of housing affordability in Metro Vancouver, appearing in a YouTube video promising the province is taking action to ease the Lower Mainland’s housing crisis – but some critics say there is a glaring omission.
Speaking directly to the camera for more than two minutes, Clark promises the province is working to address an issue that has become impossible to ignore.
“We've been working on solutions for the past several months, and in the coming days and weeks we're going to lay out a plan that will help us address housing affordability in British Columbia,” Clark said in the video. “To make sure we preserve the dream of owning a home.”
The benchmark price of a detached home in Metro Vancouver is roughly 19 times the region’s median family income.
Clark says keeping home ownership attainable to the middle class is a priority, outlining six key principles to do so. These include public transit expansion, consumer protection, first time home buyer support, and increasing housing supply.
Economist Tom Davidoff called the principles a good start, but he joins the chorus of critics that say they’re baffled by a seemingly obvious omission – foreign ownership.
“The most important [issue to be addressed] is the critical role of money coming in from overseas," said Davidoff. "People who don't pay taxes here driving up real estate prices for those who do.”
The video includes no mention of foreign ownership, a factor that analysts and economists alike say plays a role in pricing out local families.
“How do we get control of the international money in our housing market that's distorting prices so badly?” NDP housing critic David Eby told CTV News.
“It's one thing to say you're going to increase supply… but we have record housing starts in Metro Vancouver, and housing has never been less affordable.”
A recent study found some 10,800 homes, many of them condos, sit empty in Vancouver – an issue Mayor Gregor Robertson vowed to address Wednesday.
“The city will take action on taxing empty homes, with or without the help of the B.C. government,” Robertson said. “Housing is first and foremost about homes, it’s not just a commodity to make money with.”
The Premier’s office told CTV News that the principles outlined in the video are mistakenly being interpreted as a “task list” – when they’re simply meant to guide the province in addressing its housing affordability crisis. More details on exactly how it plans to do so are expected next week.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald