HALT Vancouver (Housing Action for Local Taxpayers) has come up with a very good list of actions needed immediately by the new NDP/Green coalition now ruling British Columbia. Despite big promises in the recent provincial election, the NDP appears to be “kicking the can down the road.” (For example, see Metro News today: B.C. NDP can’t afford to break key election promise on fundraising: experts). HALT is urging people to call their MLA right away and keep the pressure up.
Below is HALT’s list of crucial changes needed, from their September 1 Facebook post, copied here with permission. We urge readers to follow @HALT_YVR and visit them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HALTVancouver/).
Housing Actions Now
Published September 1, 2017
June 29, 2017 was an historic day for BC, we saw the BC NDP party form a government with support from the BC Greens. Both BC NDP and BC Greens ran on a platform that committed to a change from how the provincial government worked under the BC Liberals; a government that works for everyone, making life more affordable for local taxpayers. They promised strong action on housing adding 114,000 new social units and aggressive action against price increases driven by speculation and tax fraud.
Yet while other ministries have made quick progress fulfilling some of the campaign promises like ending tolls, increasing welfare rates, action on stopping Kinder Morgan, reassessing viability for Site C and ending the Grizzly hunt, there has been no action taken or information shared by the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Finance, and the Attorney General on housing apart from “ we are still reviewing the file”.
On Sep 8, 2017 the legislature will gather in Victoria for an historic sitting which will set the direction government will take for the next four years.
We need to remind the government of their duties and the promise they made to the people of BC. The single most important thing government can do in addressing housing affordability is to ensure existing laws are enforced and people disobeying those laws are punished to the fullest extent.
–Enforce existing tax law- this would impact housing affordability today. The NDP needs to put pressure on the federal government and the CRA to commit resources to targeting tax evasion and money laundering. We do not need committees or discussion papers regarding these issues. The extent to which these activities are occurring, especially in B.C., and the effect they are having on our housing market are well known and well documented. Every dollar not collected from tax evaders is a dollar taken from the pockets of hard working taxpayers.
–Implement Corruption Taskforce proposed by David Eby before the Provincial election.
–Take aggressive action against those who enable fraud and assist in breaking rules. There is ample evidence of wilful non-compliance and turning a blind eye to suspect transactions by both the real estate and financial industry in this province. Both these industries have proven that they are unable to regulate themselves in this regard and the status quo cannot remain.
–Implement the BC Housing Affordability Fund the NDP supported while in opposition. This is an idea that came from academia and was endorsed by 47 economists from UBC and SFU. An idea David Eby admired so much he once said he wished someone in his party had thought of it. Many experts have claimed this is the single most important piece of legislation government can pass as it ensures housing is for those who live in BC and pay taxes in BC.
–Expand foreign buyers tax province wide and extend it to all property types (including ALR, commercial and industrial), close loopholes by extending the tax to include pre-sales and flipping.
–Protect the ALR. Ban non-residents from purchasing land in the ALR. Work with local councils to ensure the maximum ALR house size complies with the intent of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) recommendations. At present many councils are allowing residential houses on ALR land grossly in excess of those recommendations despite the protests of a growing number of local residents.
–More transparency on housing transactions (ban bare trust and numbered companies), collect and share data within the province and with federal government to tackle illegal activity from all sides.
–Stop flipping by adopting BC Greens platform promise to introduce limits to gains from houses flipped in quick succession.
–Cancel the irresponsible sub-prime first time home buyers loan used by BC Liberals to buy quick votes.
–Introduce laws to ban sales of new housing constructed in BC to overseas buyers (non tax resident of BC) for a period of one year after completion date.
We ask everyone to pick up their phone, call their MLA, and demand action that will produce change right now because the people of BC cannot wait another 3 years for affordable housing.