This week in Question Period

This week, caucus focused their questions for the government primarily on housing measures introduced in this week's provincial budget.

Monday / Adam

On the looming extinction of Thompson and Chilcoten Steelhead trout

Tuesday / Sonia

On money laundering in the real estate market

Wednesday / Andrew

On the purpose of housing measures in the new budget

Thursday / Adam

On the purpose of housing measures in the new budget

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  • David Stenhouse
    commented 2018-02-25 12:29:25 -0800
    Good questions from the Greens without direct answers from the NDP.

    Affordability and availability are different issues and shouldn’t necessarily be connected. It’s always been difficult anywhere in the world to find affordable housing for low-wage independent individuals in locations where people prefer to live, like Vancouver and much of BC. Much easier to “do the math” and live elsewhere where your earnings will go further. Corporations understand “the math” and play off one province against another for tax and other benefits. For the most part our provincial leadership has bent over backwards to accommodate those entities that purport to “make investment in” and “bring in jobs” to the province. So it’s not unusual for political parties to receive donations from those intimately connected with corporate aspirations in their locale. There is some reluctance for these same politicians to promote policies that target the profiteers or those that have directly contributed to the problem that is coined “The BC Housing Crisis”, especially those who have contributed to their political coffers. It’s much easier to target homeowners for special taxes rather than the development community, the real estate industry or even those governmental agencies who benefit from a rise in value. The dramatic rise in local property prices has been reflective of the lack of tangible regulation but might also be attributed to larger “market” driven forces beyond the scope of any one regulatory body. The housing crisis in BC should be seen more as a symptom of global market forces, which require a much greater and more difficult level of comprehension.

    The recent tax on non-BC resident housing in certain hot-locations is troubling for so many reasons that deserve much more comprehensive argument than appeasing the 2-child family trying to eke out a living in the 2-bedroom basement, where one parent is still in school and the other has to work 2 jobs to manage the bills. This scenario certainly exists and was a concern even 15 years ago. I was amazed at the lack of publicity there was over affordability here in Vancouver 20 years ago, which needs to better understand all contributing parts including:
    – the discrepancy between income and expenses – more effort into location adjusted “living wage” isn’t expedient for most politicians, including the NDP;
    – the encouragement within the financial industry for speculation and risk taking investments which has always had a chequered history;
    – all the costs associated with real estate, who profits the most and who bears the most risk? Hint – not the homeowner! Beneficiaries include developers, real estate agencies, property management companies, legal and accounting professions, municipal and provincial governments and their regulatory bodies, banking and financial groups, and many indirect third parties;
    – global economics and how it shapes local politics – communism and capitalism may be at the extremes, but we don’t get much opportunity to challenge or improve our understanding or discussion past grade-school debates. It seems the BC legislature has even less flexibility for real debate if these sample videos are typical;
    – a reduction in home values – presumably the goal of this tax, which is supposed to address the affordability issues, which is then supposed to make more homes available, either for purchase or rent – will not remove speculation any more than does the drop in market price of an Amazon share. Adept speculators profit from Bull and Bear markets alike;

    Finally, it really smacks of provincial government finding ways to generate more revenue for their own coffers, despite that municipalities are responsible for taxation and services for property owners. The provincial government shouldn’t act like a quasi-corporation, trying to find ways to profit from the “bubble”. Albertans and any foreign owner of property will be chastened by this pernicious, punitive, poorly constructed tax measure and will take their investment elsewhere, as do corporations when local regulations are no longer good for the “bottom-line”. If property prices fall – then a host of spill-over events will also occur, notably mortgage renewal and home equity revaluation crises in many households, which happened for many housing markets in the 2008 crisis. Is this a legitimate concern for anyone else? Please feel free to contribute to this discussion.
  • Ian MacKenzie
    followed this page 2018-02-25 10:50:44 -0800
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