Published Sunday, May 15, 2016 6:39PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 15, 2016 6:52PM PDT
Foreign ownership in Metro Vancouver’s housing market is a polarizing issue that many people have strong opinions on – and now a local man has a created a petition to take the concerns of some Canadians straight to the federal government.
The online petition was drawn up by a Burnaby man, and has been sponsored by MP Kennedy Stewart.
“There’s no doubt that the biggest issue here in B.C. is housing,” said Stewart. “Both the federal and provincial governments have done nothing on this… without federal and provincial buy in, there’s no end in sight for this housing crisis.”
The document urges the federal government to regulate foreign real estate ownership in Canada – a notion B.C. Premier Christy Clark opposes.
“I think what he is proposing wouldn’t work,” Clark said. “And it probably wouldn’t work for a lot of people who currently own homes.”
The average price of a detached home in Vancouver is nearly 15 times the average income of most people who live and work in the city.
NDP housing critic David Eby believes the petition is a great way to get the federal government talking about the issue.
“The federal government’s responsibility is very clear, so they do need to be involved in managing international speculation in our real estate market,” said Eby.
“When you have a real estate market that doesn’t serve the local economy, you have to start asking who is it serving? What is it dealing with?”
These are questions governments in Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore have also grappled with. All have imposed restrictions on the properties non-residents can acquire.
The local petition asks Ottawa to research these strategies, as well as to gather data on vacant homes and offshore investments in Canada.
“If you’re paying taxes in B.C., and you’re buying property, that’s fine,” said Eby. “The concern is the people who aren’t paying taxes, who are buying properties and driving up values.”
These are all concerns fueling a polarizing debate about the purpose of Canadian homes.
“These are the people we’re hoping to stay here, start businesses, start families. Help build our local economy,” said Eby. “There are lots of potential solutions. I just wish [the provincial government] would get going on it.”
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald