MP Kennedy Stewart calls for federal research on foreign ownership

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Kennedy Stewart, the New Democrat MP of Burnaby-Douglas, is calling on two federal bodies to research and document the number of properties under foreign ownership.

In an radio interview with CBC’s Rick Cluff, Stewart suggested that Statistics Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to record property sales, both domestic and foreign.

“We have over 4,000 local governments in Canada and to leave it just to, say, small municipalities to figure this out on their own is a big problem, and the federal government is there to do things,” said Stewart. “I think at the very least, it should be providing information to municipalities and provinces on this issue.”

By collecting this type of data, he believes that the government will know in what way to assist in the regulation of housing prices.

Last November, Stewart proposed an affordable housing strategy in the House of Commons that suggested examining and addressing the “potential impact of investor speculation and housing vacancies on the high price of real estate in urban markets.”

Since late 2014 there has been debate on whether or not taxing absentee owners will aid in making the city’s houses more affordable. Despite the online petition on change.org that gathered nearly 18,000. But B.C. Premier Christy Clark ruled out incorporating additional taxes on foreign buyers.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city’s problem lies within the number of empty homes, and not foreign ownership. The City of Vancouver announced in April that it will be compiling an online database with listed empty houses.

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Behdad Mahichi is currently an Editorial Assistant at Vancity Buzz and a journalism student at Ryerson University. He writes about anything from entertainment and politics to his misfortunately extreme caffeine addiction.
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