“..the City of Vancouver wants to collaborate with the provincial and federal governments to explore the viability of “restricting property ownership by non-permanent residents.”
That line appears in Vancouver’s 10-year housing strategy released Thursday, a comprehensive plan seeking to address all elements of the city’s housing crisis.
Upon learning the city’s new housing strategy proposes looking at restricting foreign ownership, Andy Yan told Postmedia: “It’s interesting … It’s the admission that you have a problem. As with many things in life, that’s the first step.”
“This does mark a bit of a sea change,” said Yan, now the director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program. “From the accusations that observers and critics are racists, to the realization that Vancouver does indeed sit in this global marketplace for residential real estate, through which local incomes can’t compete.”
The idea to investigate foreign ownership restrictions is one of a number of “tax and financial regulations to limit the commodification of housing and land for speculative investment” proposed in the city’s report, along with ideas like introducing a speculation and flipping tax, reforming federal and provincial tax regulations and seeking to “close loopholes.”
These proposals are designated as “high” priority in the city report, to be addressed in the first year of the 10-year plan.
Dan Garrison, Vancouver’s assistant director of housing policy, said Friday: “Our thinking on that has evolved in the last number of years … Whether it’s foreign ownership or investment from other sources, certainly that piece around investment driving housing costs is something that’s really ramped up in the public mind in the last couple of years.”
The city report raises the idea of investigating the examples of Australia and New Zealand, two countries where foreign ownership has been a red-button issue, that have both taken steps to limit foreign ownership.
B.C. Finance Minister Carole James is “reviewing the tax system and evaluating existing and proposed housing tax measures,” including the role of speculation in B.C.’s housing market, as part of the planning for the 2018 budget, James said Friday in an emailed statement.
“However,” James said, “a ban on foreign ownership of homes is not being considered as part of Budget 2018 planning. British Columbians are proud to welcome thousands of newcomers each year who help strengthen our province.”