Gregor Robertson pleads for new taxes to curb unaffordable housing market

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Mayor Gregor Robertson

Vancouver’s Mayor has had it with the city’s growing real estate problem.

In the wake of BC Assessment’s 2016 property value data release, Gregor Robertson is calling for two new taxes to curb the “runaway price growth”.

City Hall watchdogs will note that Robertson has his hands tied when it comes to implementing any taxes on property ownership, which is only something that can be done at the provincial or federal level, but that hasn’t stopped him from pleading with the higher-ups for action.

“Far too many families on modest incomes cannot afford to live in our city or even in this region, which has enormous consequences for Vancouver’s economy and quality of life,” Robertson wrote in a statement issued Tuesday.

“This week’s BC Assessment numbers only underscore the urgency of a combination of reasonable and responsible actions that must be taken by the BC and Federal governments.”

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SEE ALSO: Top 25 most expensive homes in Greater Vancouver

The Mayor informally proposed a speculation tax that would help to slow down the practice of flipping homes, which he says treats housing like a commodity and intensifies the price escalation. He also suggested a luxury housing tax to ensure “the very weathiest buyers or investors pay an added price.” No values on what these taxes may be or who specifically they might target were noted.

He added that income from these taxes could go toward building affordable housing for the low- and middle-income earners.

While proposing the two taxes, Robertson also called for better tracking of data on international investment and absentee ownership, something both the Federal and Provincial governments have refused to look into.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently told Global News in a Christmas Day interview broadcast that he is wary about taking action against foreign ownership as it may “devalue the equity of what a lot of people have in their homes right now.”

“You have to be very, very cautious about restricting foreign investment in our country at a time where we know we need foreign investment in businesses and resource development,” said Trudeau.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has previously echoed these concerns as her excuse against collecting data on the issue.

Christy Clark Flickr / Province of British Columbia

SEE ALSO: 62% of B.C. residents disapprove of Christy Clark's leadership

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Jill Slattery Jill Slattery was born and raised in Vancouver, where she also earned an Arts degree from UBC in English and Creative Writing. She is an avid TV-watcher and a shameless Taylor Swift fangirl. Jill is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. Contact her at jill@vancitybuzz.com
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