Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has written to Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau to request a meeting to hash out the real estate problems the City is facing.
In the letter, Robertson says the City has three main issues that needed addressing:
“They speak to a growing anxiety that warrants a robust response to ensure the public has full confidence in our regulatory systems,” writes Robertson.
Robertson’s letter comes after Morneau met with Mayor of Toronto John Tory in April on the same matter, which Robertson references in his letter.
“I was encouraged to see the federal government taking steps to work with the City of Toronto and the province of Ontario to address issues in their housing market,” writes Robertson.
In his letter, Mayor Robertson cites the anxiety of residents concerned about fraudulent practices related to home purchases in the city.
That includes “whether proper disclosure of income and primary residence have taken place, and if the necessary taxes have been paid,” he writes.
Robertson explains how housing prices remain disconnected at large from local incomes in Vancouver and says the city’s rental market is in crisis because of its near-zero vacancy rate.
The Mayor also highlights the consequences: “Many businesses are struggling to recruit and retain talent, which is putting our economy, currently the strongest in Canada, at risk.”
To show how dire the situation has become Robertson, explains that the IMF recently issued a warning on the present-day risks in the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets.
He calls for a proactive approach, which creates long-term stability and resiliency in the housing market if the future prosperity and inclusiveness of the city is to be ensured.
Robertson calls for a coordinated policy response from all levels of government to address the issues and asks that provincial Finance Minister, Mike de Jong, join the conversation.
While de Jong is still Finance Minister, it remains to be seen whether that will be the case by the time a meeting is arranged, as BC awaits the resolution of its election results.
Here’s the full letter from Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson:
Dear Minister Morneau;
At a time when cities like Vancouver and Toronto are confronted with an unprecedented housing affordability crisis, I was encouraged to see the Federal government taking steps to work with the City of Toronto and the province of Ontario to address issues in their housing market. As Vancouver is facing many similar issues, I am writing to request a meeting with you to discuss a number of our concerns, focused on three issues:
- Affordability and the disconnect between local incomes and housing costs;
- Efforts to combat tax evasion in the housing market;
- Local and global speculation in Vancouver real estate.
It is vitally important that the public has confidence in our regulatory institutions and their ability to ensure a level playing field in our real estate market. While your recent actions to provide greater oversight on issues of capital gains are greatly valued, I often hear from residents who are concerned about fraudulent practices connected to home purchases in Vancouver. These concerns include whether proper disclosure of income and primary residence have taken place, and if the necessary taxes have been paid. Though many of the stories shared may be anecdotal, they speak to a growing anxiety that warrants a robust response to ensure the public has full confidence in our regulatory systems.
At the same time, housing prices overall are still vastly disconnected from local incomes in Vancouver, and our rental market is at crisis levels due to a near-zero vacancy rate. As a result, many businesses are struggling to recruit and retain talent, which is putting our economy, currently the strongest in Canada, at risk. The IMF recently issued a warning related to the risks present in the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets. If we are to ensure the future prosperity and inclusiveness of our city, a proactive approach that creates long-term stability and resiliency in the housing market is essential.
A coordinated policy response from all levels of government is needed to address these issues. Moreover, with Vancouver’s new empty homes tax currently being implemented, this is an opportune moment to collaborate on issues around monitoring capital gains and primary residence declarations.
I look forward to a productive conversation on how the City can support the Federal government’s efforts to grow the economy, ensure housing stability and affordability for the middle class, and increase public confidence in our regulatory institutions. I would also welcome the Finance Minister from the next provincial government to join our conversation as well, to ensure coordination across all three levels of government.
Mayor, City of Vancouver