This 12-page report from the BC Gov’t and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) recognizes that our affordability crisis has many causes, and proposes several measures to deal with them. [Note: the plan is available HERE, but you’ll require a free Scribd account to download it].
You can sign a petition advocating for the BCGEU recommendations HERE.
Writing on behalf of its 72,000 members, the BCGEU says this:
Our housing system and real estate market has become overpowered by a speculative purchasing environment and our current methods for regulation, planning and taxation have failed to manage the effects. The crisis is the result of three main factors:
- The influence of external investment capital in the province
- Increased mortgage lending and profit-driven financial institutions which are fueling the speculative frenzy
- Poor real estate regulations and land-use policies that create opportunities for private profit at the expense of the public interest.
While public attention has focused on the effects foreign investment has had in the region, the reality is that foreign investment is just the catalyst of the crisis while financial institutions have been the fuel. Banks and other financial institutions have fueled the crisis by approving larger mortgages than they would otherwise allow, spurring domestic buyers to chase property prices that would usually be regarded as high-end anomalies.
. . . we think that a meaningful plan for addressing B.C.’s housing and affordability crisis requires the following:
1. Reform property taxes to target speculators and raise funds for affordable housing and infrastructure. This reform would require the following:
- Implementing a provincial land value capture tax to curb speculation and capture a portion of the value created in real estate by infrastructure projects paid for by the public
- Reforming the property transfer tax to target high-end investors, capture windfall gains on investment properties, and remove loopholes that allow landowners to transfer property without paying tax by transferring shares in a corporation
- Reform the Foreign Buyers Tax to add a surcharge on those owners who do not reside and earn income in B.C
2. Amending legislation to protect renters and better regulate real estate transactions. Our plan calls for:
- Protecting renters and rental stock by closing loopholes in the Residential Tenancy Act and regulating and taxing short term rentals,
- Strengthening regulations on the real estate industry
- Revising the Local Government Act, Community Charter and Vancouver City Charter to give local and provincial governments the appropriate balance of power needed to implement the recommendations
3. Investing in new affordable public housing and infrastructure
- Establishing a clear and accountable 10-year buildout strategy for new affordable public housing and a plan to support, maintain and regenerate existing affordable housing stock
- Integrating and aligning the affordable housing strategy with planned transit infrastructure and the emerging poverty reduction and universal child care plans.