Sam Sullivan needs no introduction to Vancouver readers. For those outside of Vancouver this multi-faceted, well read, personable individual is currently an MLA for Vancouver-False Creek, a past City Councillor and former Mayor of Vancouver, and his Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation has raised over $20 million dollars and served thousands of people with disabilities. Sam has also founded the Tetra Society which invents customized devices for disabled users and was fundamental in setting up the Disabled Sailing Association in Vancouver. Among many other activities, Sam is also an adjunct professor in the University of British Columbia’s School of Landscape Architecture and Architecture.
Sam is currently running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of British Columbia. He has sent the following letter out to his supporters on the “House Price Crisis”.
For the sake of our economy and young people, we must address the house price crisis. But we must first identify the problem.
For the last couple of years, a debate has pitted non-economists against economists. The non-economists claim foreigners are to blame. The economists claim we Canadians are to blame.
NDP politician David Eby has led the anti-foreigner group. A study he initiated indicated up to 70% of Westside Vancouver houses were purchased by foreigners. Just last month Stats Canada researchers and Government of Canada housing economists finally released their report. They found 3.2% of all single detached homes in Metro Vancouver were owned by non-residents. This includes Americans and British Columbian snowbirds who live south most of the year.
Most foreign ownership was in condos (7.9%) which have seen the lowest price rises. They tend to own newer, smaller, more expensive condos downtown where many have business relations or have ‘pied à terries’.
This report seems to have solved nothing. The theory that foreigners are responsible is popular among British Columbians. The non-economists claim that foreigners are hiding their ownership. Government researchers and economists are now researching this claim. This will not deal with the other accusation that the statisticians are deliberately misleading the public.
British Columbia has always had non-resident owned housing. The poet Rudyard Kipling bought lots in Vancouver in 1890. The Vancouver streets Westminster and Ninth were changed to Main and Broadway to increase sales to US investors. World-renowned neighbourhoods like Concord Pacific and Coal Harbour were built by Asian investors.
Let us hope that the new numbers will settle this issue. If the researchers uncover a massive conspiracy of foreigners buying our houses and pushing up prices then we need to take corrective action.
But if not we need to take action to deal with our own problems.
In Vancouver, since the 1970s, it has been practically impossible to convert suburban areas to high density. Today, almost 70% of residential land continues to be in suburban form. Many of these neighbourhoods have fewer people living there today than the 1970s.
My plan will deal with the bottleneck in the creation of housing. I will remove elected politicians from public hearings. Legislators should not be acting as judges in a properly designed government. Judicial Tribunals should be responsible for judicial functions.
I have created the following VIDEO which describes my analysis of the problem and how we can solve it.