Activist website solely blames foreign investors for Vancouver's housing woes

Jun 22 2016, 2:31 pm

A new initiative has cropped up in Vancouver that aims to place the blame of the city’s housing crisis solely on foreign investors.

The aptly titled “Make Vancouver Great Again” (“aptly titled” because we know how Donald Trump feels about immigration) provides statistics and a rather thorough breakdown on why they believe foreign investment is ruining our city.

Beyond providing data on how 85% of detached homes over $2 million were sold to people with Chinese names, the website also implies many Chinese buyers are solely in it to launder money and leave our homes empty.

Vancouver has a total of 10,800 empty homes, a rate that’s on-par with the rest of the Metro area, according to a report released from the city back in March, and 90% of those are condos. Chinese buyers are largely buying up luxury homes, making the majority of these empty homes unaccounted for.

And while it’s true that there are some questionable business dealings going on with some foreign investors (declaring low incomes, buying $31 million mansions and listing their occupation as a “student”), to say foreign investors are the main cause of the housing crisis doesn’t paint the whole picture according to an expert.

“That can be local boomers owning condos for an investment that they don’t want to rent out, that can be Americans having vacation pads, and it can be Chinese spiriting money out and parking their kids here to go to school. There are all different ways that can happen,” says UBC Sauder School of Business economist Tsur Somerville.

Daily Hive interviewed Somerville for an article on the disparity between wages and the cost of living in Vancouver as part of a series on affordability in the city. For all those reasons he stated above, he believes our taxation system needs an overhaul.

“The tax system here taxes labour much more than it taxes property. So that’s taxing folks who work here at the expense of folks who own things here,” he says.

Click here to check out “Make Vancouver Great Again” and keep an eye out for our Affordability Series.

Lauren SundstromLauren Sundstrom

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