Victoria, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, Leader of the Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head, says that government policy is contributing to the rampant speculation in Vancouver’s housing market and that it could take simple steps to start addressing the issue now.
“Speculation in Vancouver’s housing market is not a new issue” says Weaver. “Suddenly, with the potential of fraud occurring the Premier has called on the Real Estate Council to take action. However there are a number of steps the Provincial government could take right now to clamp down on this out-of-control problem.”
Earlier today Weaver introduced a Private Member’s Bill titled the Land Title Amendment Act. The legislation would allow government to track the source of home purchases throughout the Province to better understand the effects that foreign and domestic speculation is having in B.C.
“Tracking who owns property through a simple amendment to the Land Title Act would give government the information it needs to see the role foreign ownership is actually having in our marketplace.”
Weaver also used question period to probe the Minister of Finance about whether the government would act to close a loophole that contributes to incentivizing the speculative real estate market in B.C.
“Legal entities like the bare trust, whether by design or by omission, are helping drive the speculative real estate market in B.C.,” said Weaver. “It is essential that we begin to ratchet down on these practices so that houses aren’t simply treated as commodities, but as essential building blocks for healthy communities.”
The bare trust loophole allows wealthy individuals and corporations to avoid registering at the Land Title Office and so also avoid paying B.C.’s Property Transfer Tax.
Weaver also probed the Minister of Finance about any action that will be taken to follow what other jurisdictions are doing, and explore the use of a tax on vacant properties, in a revenue neutral fashion, in order to help pay for the costs associated with the lack of affordable housing.
“There are at least three dimensions to this problem in Metro Vancouver: government incentivized speculation; preponderance of vacant homes and non-enforcement of illegal realtor transactions,” said Weaver. “While it is great that this government is finally starting to pay attention to what is happening in the Lower Mainland housing market, their first step has been to call upon others for action. The reality is there are a number of actions that this government could take to address all three aspects of this issue. I’m am calling on them to take these steps.”
Mat Wright, Press Secretary, Office of Andrew Weaver, MLA
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