About the Plan

inspector_graphic.png

*A full detailed report on the Affordable BC plan can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. 

British Columbia has been gripped by a housing affordability crisis that has deprived an entire generation of the ability to rent or own housing that fits their needs. Everyday, we talk to union members who are finding it increasingly difficult to afford life in in BC, and especially in urban centres like Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna. Workers are struggling to find housing for their families, leading many to move further away from work and others to leave the province altogether. B.C. is losing experienced workers and economic productivity.

Solving this crisis requires bold action to tackle loose regulation in the housing market that has allowed speculators and banks to reap immense profits on the backs of British Columbians. With the help of experts in the field, the BCGEU has come up with a plan that tackles the affordability crisis by curbing speculation and making investments into housing and infrastructure that benefits all British Columbians.

The problem?

Rising_prices.png

Speculative investment in B.C. has made the province one of the most expensive places in the world to live—particularly in the Metro Vancouver area. Fewer working families and individuals are able to purchase a home than ever before. Homelessness is growing more widespread and increasingly severe. Even those with good jobs and stable incomes are now finding it difficult to rent.

Workers and residents need a new system that restores fairness, stability and security to our housing market and to the real estate transactions that shape it.

We need a plan that prioritizes healthy families and communities by investing in needed services and infrastructure for those that live here, that builds affordable housing for those that need it, and most importantly, that redefines the value of property in terms of its fundamental use as a place to live.    

The cause?

While various factors contribute to rising housing prices in Vancouver, the most troubling and underlying cause of our situation is that housing and property is being treated primarily as a financial asset rather than as a place to live.

Our housing system and real estate market has become overpowered by a speculative purchasing environment and our current methods for regulation, planning and taxation have failed to manage the effects. The crisis is the result of three main factors:

  1. The influence of external investment capital in the province

  2. Increased mortgage lending and profit-driven financial institutions which are fueling the speculative frenzy

  3. Poor real estate regulations and land-use policies that create opportunities for private profit at the expense of the public interest

While public attention has focused on the effects foreign investment has had in the region, the reality is that foreign investment is just the catalyst of the crisis while financial institutions have been the fuel. Banks and other financial institutions have fueled the crisis by approving larger mortgages than they would otherwise allow, spurring domestic buyers to chase property prices that would usually be regarded as high-end anomalies.

The increasing size of loans issued by financial institutions has manifested as a privately levied "tax" on renters. While speculators simply have to pay the principal on a loan to break even, the wildly increasing interest payments are borne by the occupants as higher rent payments.

rents_as_tax_by_banks.png

This means that speculators profit from ever increasing real estate values, while the actual productive value of land – the rent it produces – is harvested by the lenders. These windfall gains are rarely taxed.

The underlying incentives for speculation in our marketplace are compounded by costly oversights in real estate regulations and land use policy. Poor zoning regulations in major urban centres has resulted in new opportunities for speculation, while our current property taxation system has failed to capture the gains in property value of developments near infrastructure built on the public dime.

The efforts made by municipal and provincial governments to solve the crisis to date have been piecemeal and ineffective. To fully address this crisis, we need a bold plan that rethinks the way we tax, regulate and build B.C.’s real estate sector.

The plan

Our vision for a more affordable B.C. rests on the assumption that being able to rent or own appropriate housing is a basic condition of the social contract for working people in a democracy. In the absence of a stable and fair-paying job, or faced with other adverse circumstances, we also hold that ours is a society where those who need help finding a safe and supportive place to live will be provided that publicly.

With these simple guiding principles in mind, we think that a meaningful plan for addressing B.C.’s housing and affordability crisis requires the following:

  1. Reform property taxes to target speculators and raise funds for affordable housing and infrastructure. This reform would require the following:

    • Implementing a provincial land value capture tax to curb speculation and capture a portion of the value created in real estate by infrastructure projects paid for by the public

    • Reforming the property transfer tax to target high-end investors, capture windfall gains on investment properties, and remove loopholes that allow landowners to transfer property without paying tax by transferring shares in a corporation

    • Reform the Foreign Buyers Tax to add a surcharge on those owners who do not reside and earn income in B.C.

  2. Amending legislation to protect renters and better regulate real estate transactions. Our plan calls for:

    • Protecting renters and rental stock by closing loopholes in the Residential Tenancy Act and regulating and taxing short term rentals,

    • Strengthening regulations on the real estate industry 

    • Revising the Local Government Act, Community Charter and Vancouver City Charter to give local and provincial governments the appropriate balance of power needed to implement the recommendations

  3. Investing in new affordable public housing and infrastructure

    • Establishing a clear and accountable 10-year buildout strategy for new affordable public housing and a plan to support, maintain and regenerate existing affordable housing stock

    • Integrating and aligning the affordable housing strategy with planned transit infrastructure and the emerging poverty reduction and universal child care plans.

Building an Affordable B.C. by Affordable BC on Scribd

  • 3,505

    of a 10,000 signature goal
    Read more
Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
    followed About Affordable BC 2018-02-17 20:48:20 -0800
    commented on About Affordable BC 2018-02-17 17:22:05 -0800
    It seems to me that the deeper underlying cause is allowing land to be a commodity on the “free” market. The demand exceeds the supply so the price continues to escalate. How about taking the radical step (which has been applied elsewhere) of taking land out of the speculation frenzy and only permitting long term leases? The government can exercise “Eminent Domain”. Somebody please explain to me why that wouldn’t solve the problem.
    followed About Affordable BC 2018-02-16 13:21:02 -0800
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-12-24 11:28:32 -0800
    About the Plan
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-12-24 09:57:44 -0800
    About the Plan
    commented on About Affordable BC 2017-12-23 17:22:05 -0800
    Shame on you !You know that won’t fix anything Seniors are dying as a result.Shame on you for disrespecting your elderly population!Shame on you for trying to pull the wool over people eyes .This has been going on for over a decade seniors are starving and some are freezing to death.Shame on you call it what it is.
    SENIORS DYING.SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-12-01 08:02:31 -0800
    Social responsibility, caring about your neighborhood. Whats your plan?
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-28 12:13:40 -0800
    About the Plan
    @TanitaViva tweeted link to About Affordable BC. 2017-11-27 01:36:03 -0800
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-25 10:22:43 -0800
    About the Plan
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-23 16:36:43 -0800
    About the Plan
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-23 01:23:34 -0800
    About the Plan
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-22 19:03:34 -0800
    About the Plan
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-22 14:45:13 -0800
    Analysis that addresses worries of homeowners AND renters. Plus solutions to bring both groups together! Brilliant.
    @7leninvan tweeted link to About Affordable BC. 2017-11-22 14:45:09 -0800
    Analysis that addresses worries of homeowners AND renters. Plus solutions to bring both groups together! Brilliant. https://www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan?recruiter_id=214125
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-22 11:06:10 -0800
    BCGEU has a solid comprehensive plan for dealing with Vancouver housing's lack of affordability. About the Plan
    @KenOhrn tweeted link to About Affordable BC. 2017-11-22 11:06:04 -0800
    BCGEU has a solid comprehensive plan for dealing with Vancouver housing's lack of affordability. About the Plan https://www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan?recruiter_id=214085
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-22 10:23:47 -0800
    About the Plan
    @lainiesoleil77 tweeted link to About Affordable BC. 2017-11-22 07:56:12 -0800
    Sign this petition if you want your kids to have a future in BC https://www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan?recruiter_id=214020
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-22 07:25:44 -0800
    I know you can make a difference and help with this issue. This crisis effects us all deeply in so many ways.
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-21 22:24:23 -0800
    One of the most comprehensive policy proposals on fixing #VanRe housing crisis that I’ve seen.
    @kvanderhoek75 tweeted link to About Affordable BC. 2017-11-21 22:24:21 -0800
    One of the most comprehensive policy proposals on fixing #VanRe housing crisis that I’ve seen. https://www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan?recruiter_id=213981
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-21 20:25:03 -0800
    I just signed the BC Affordability Plan, will you? @bcgeu #bcpoli
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-21 05:46:14 -0800
    About the Plan
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-20 19:23:11 -0800
    There are some good and not so good ideas but to be honest.... this is more of a plan than the current and previous governments have produced. Well worth a signature to get them talking.
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-20 15:07:17 -0800
    About the Plan
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-11-10 15:02:49 -0800
    About the Plan
    commented on About Affordable BC 2017-10-30 15:28:12 -0700
    I think this plan is missing few important points. 1. External investment capital may have very questionable origins, but there is little or no effort from federal and/or provincial governments in verifying the origin of these funds. It should be done in co-operation with foreign governments. We are very critical of other countries that are turning into offshore zones, but we do little when the same happens to Canada and BC in particular. As long as the cost of foreign buyer tax will be lower or equal to the cost of the money laundering it will be easier to lauder money by investing in BC’s real estate then to legalize questionable funds. 2. Speculative funds are very dynamic and the volume of speculative funds currently invested in BC’s economy exposes it to the danger of an economic crisis. Government has little or no control over this. 3. Businesses are hard pressed in hiring staff due to the lack of housing affordability. That will affect the competitiveness of the province in the long run. 4. Provincial infrastructure, especially transit systems, is not prepared to support work force relocation to the more affordable markets around the Greater Vancouver area. 5. All plans that were introduced so far heavily rely on rental housing. In the long run, it is a very short-sighted approach. People residing in the rental housing can not contribute funds to their asset accumulation as they have to redirect them to rent payments. As a result, at the end of their active work life, they will not have assets to maintain the same standards of living. They will heavily rely on government support when it comes to housing, health and living expenses. They also will not have assets to pass on to the next generations. On the contrary, landlords will accumulate excessive funds that only partially will be used to maintain and/ or improve buildings but for the most part they will be used to provide luxury life style to those few and that will contribute to further division between rich and poor. Landlords can and most probably will reinvest excessive funds in other countries and/or provinces. Government has to look at the possibility of subsidizing mortgages and/ or partial ownership for long term residents of BC who are not able to enter the real estate market under the current conditions.
    posted about About Affordable BC on Facebook 2017-10-30 10:54:40 -0700
    About the Plan