Opinion Column

Six-month ban needed on foreign ownership

Bill Tieleman

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Bob Rennie, real estate magnate, doesn't support a foreign ownership tax. 
FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS

Bob Rennie, real estate magnate, doesn't support a foreign ownership tax. FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS

“A foreign ownership tax of 10% on a $5 million home will not stop a sale or create any affordability.” Bob Rennie

 

Bob Rennie is right — that’s why the first step in solving Metro Vancouver’s high-priced housing problem is simpler, and even more unwelcome to him.

We need to ban all new foreign home ownership in B.C. for six months.

A six-month ban would give us time to start finding long-term solutions — and send a signal to the world that Metro Vancouver is not for sale to the highest bidder as a blue chip investment. It’s our home — people with no commitment to B.C. have no business buying residential property purely for speculation.

Even the Bank of Canada says foreign demand “does contribute to price increases that are driving the rise in household indebtedness.”

The BC Liberal government could pass an act temporarily suspending the purchase of residential property by foreign buyers for a six-month period to stop the insane escalation of housing prices fuelled by wealthy investors who have no plans to live here.

During that time, the government could work with the federal and municipal governments, realtors, developers, contractors, housing experts — and most of all, citizens — to gather data and formulate a strategy to reduce ridiculous price increases that are driving people into despair.

But the B.C. government won’t impose a temporary foreign ownership ban or do anything substantial.

Why? First, the provincial Property Transfer Tax revenue of $1.1 billion helps balance their budget with contributions nine times the $128 million in natural gas royalties.

But second, the real estate industry funded the BC Liberals with $12 million of the $70 million they raised between 2005 and 2015.

And who is Premier Christy Clark’s chief fundraiser? Rennie, who adamantly opposes restricting foreign sales.

“China buys $6 billion a year in British Columbia exports. Are we going to tamper with those jobs and our economy?” Rennie says.

Their economy? No, ours. The first step — just like with a life-threatening injury — is to stop the bleeding with a six-month ban.

But until the BC Liberals realize that skyrocketing housing prices are threatening our way of life, there will only be more casualties.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com or Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman 

Poll

Do you support a six-month ban on foreign purchases of BC homes?