For years, people have been saying the “big one” is going to hit the Lower Mainland, but it has yet to happen. It’s the same with Vancouver’s housing bubble – with that long-anticipated burst yet to come to fruition.
While we can only prepare for that inevitable earthquake, a way to help deflate the real estate bubble seems to be gaining traction.
Despite a brief pause with the downturn in the economy, the Lower Mainland’s housing market is ablaze. It’s a case where demand dramatically outweighs supply. Much of that demand is coming from foreign investors – particularly from China. While good for the province, a younger generation of Lower Mainlanders not fortunate enough to inherit a home are finding the market inaccessible. Former Canadian ambassador to China, David Mulroney, has written about this phenomenon and recommended the B.C. government follow the lead of other nations that have put in place policies to “keep their cities welcoming… but also protect people on fixed incomes or think thoughtfully about vacancies.”
A petition on www.change.org is also calling on the province to develop such a policy. More than 20,000 people have signed it, but B.C. Premier Christy Clark says that won’t be happening.
“By moving foreign owners out of the market housing prices will drop,” Clark told the media.
What Clark should have said was, “sorry, but this is what’s driving our province’s economy.”
Fact is, according to the B.C. government’s own figures, real estate, rental and leasing accounts for 17.5 per cent of the province’s gross domestic product (by comparison, natural resources accounts for 7.8 per cent, and manufacturing 7.2). Furthermore, the B.C. government has made great strides in improving its trade relations with China.
It’s unlikely Clark would risk all that just to put less-affluent B.C. families first.