B.C. Housing, the agency that has bought and operated hotels, vacant senior homes and modular structures to get people off the street, would get a major boost to its capital and operating capital under a B.C. Liberal government, leader Andrew Wilkinson said Friday.
B.C. Housing would receive a $750 million increase in its capital budget to build more rental housing, and $146 million increase to its operating funds, Wilkinson said Oct. 16 at a campaign stop in Port Moody.
Expanding on the commitments in the B.C. Liberal platform, Wilkinson said municipal permit and zoning changes are needed to get market housing projects built more quickly. Even with COVID-19, average rent in the Lower Mainland has risen $2,000 a year, he said.
“The number of rental vacancies remains very, very low,” Wilkinson said. “In terms of purchased housing, condos are up 10 per cent, houses are up five per cent. The cost of housing is higher than it’s ever been in British Columbia, and incomes are going down because of COVID. So we have an affordability crisis that is not getting better.”
Wilkinson and B.C. NDP leader Joh Horgan have battled over the effectiveness of housing measures. The former B.C. Liberal government brought in a foreign buyers tax for Metro Vancouver that initially stabilized prices, and the B.C. NDP moved ahead with a speculation and vacancy tax that Horgan says has caused 11,000 formerly empty condos to be rented out.
Wilkinson has called for the speculation tax to be replaced by a condo flipping tax on pre-sale contracts, and Friday he went further.
“We need to implement higher property taxes for non-residents of Canada,” Wilkinson said. “It’s done in many jurisdictions in the world, from New Zealand to Texas, and we can do it too.”