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David Eby proposes rapid construction of affordable homes, new flipping tax

B.C. NDP leadership hopeful David Eby has released a sweeping plan to address the province's housing crisis, which includes an initiative to fast-track the construction of affordable homes.

The candidate shared his wide-reaching proposal Wednesday, pointing to new Statistics Canada data showing national population growth has reached a level not seen since the mid-1960s, at the end of the Baby Boom.

"We have a hugely growing population and our housing supply is not keeping up, and the pressure is falling directly on families," Eby said.

Among the numerous policy proposals, Eby highlighted what he has dubbed the B.C. Builds initiative, which would see the government spearhead affordable home construction on public lands in both rural and urban areas, including First Nations reserves.

"This piece really responds to the challenge we face in expecting that the private market somehow is just going to build the housing we need, even though it hasn’t been doing that," he said.

"This has the potential to deliver thousands of units of actually attainable, affordable housing for families."

The candidate, who previously acted as both B.C.'s attorney general and minister responsible for housing, has also proposed a flipping tax that would be applied to homes bought and sold in under two years.

A provided summary of the proposal does not reveal what the rate would be, but says it would be highest for those who flip properties in the shortest period of time, and decrease over time until reaching zero at the two-year mark.

There would be exemptions for death, employment loss, divorce and disability.

The plan also includes a $500 million Rental Housing Acquisition Fund, which would see the province provide grants to First Nations, non-profits and co-ops to help them purchase affordable rental properties that are listed for sale before they can be scooped up by investors.

"Because we have a shortage of housing, speculators and investors and companies from across Canada and North America are lining up to buy these rental buildings as investments," Eby said. "Real estate investment trusts (have) bottomless resources to buy up rental housing here and take advantage of the housing shortage that we have."

Under the plan, secondary suites would become legal across the province and provincial permitting for housing would be simplified into a "one-stop" process.

Other measures include everything from tools to address money laundering in real estate to a ban on strata rules that prevent owners from renting out their units.

Builders could construct three units in the place of every single family home, without securing new zoning permits, if the development met height and set back requirements.

Liberal finance critic Peter Milobar criticized the plan, saying it was heavy on taxes and low on details.

He noted that home zoning and decisions around secondary suites now largely fall to municipalities.

"How (can you) just unilaterally put in increased density, and without knowing what the city services under the roads are like for water and sewer and things of that nature?" Milobar said.

He also questioned why many of the suggestions never made it to cabinet while Eby was housing minister.

Other measures include everything from tools to address money laundering in real estate to a ban on strata rules that prevent owners from renting out their units.

Eby said the latter would allow people who need the money to rent out a room in their apartment.

"We are desperate for rental housing. We can't have a situation where a unit is sitting vacant,” he added.

Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condo Home Owners Association said the situation was more complex. Many of the buildings with rental bylaws were built before 2010, he said, and a survey done by his organization found them “predominantly occupied, 99 to 100 per cent.”

He also pointed to short-term rentals as eating up supply

"Sechelt is now limiting the total number of short-term accommodations because they've lost so much housing to short-term rentals, and other jurisdictions around the world have simply prohibited (them)," Gioventu told CTV News in an interview.

Before any of this can become reality Eby will need to convince NDP members to make him the next premier.

Anjali Appadurai, who is running against Eby, wasn't available for an interview Wednesday. A statement said while there were welcome changes, more needs to be done for unhoused and vulnerable people, along with those who can't afford housing costs in B.C.

"Most notably, Dave’s housing plan does not acknowledge that the climate and housing crises we face are linked, and they are fueling each other,” the statement added.

Appadurai said she would release her plan in the coming weeks. Top Stories

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