Editorial — Report of housing affordability is disturbing

Keeping housing affordable should be a major goal of all levels of government.

A report issued by Vancity Credit Union last week is deeply disturbing.

The report says that, if there is no significant downturn in the Lower Mainland housing market, Langley will be the only community on Metro Vancouver which will be affordable for most home buyers 15 years from now.

The report states that the average price for housing in Vancouver at that time will be more than $2 million. This is completely unaffordable for most people. Prices in surrounding communities will also rise accordingly, and even today, Vancity says housing remains affordable in only five communities — Langley City, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam and New Westminster.

Do we want this area to be a place where people can only afford to rent? Given that rents are rising as well, even that may not be an option for some people.

There is no question that housing prices have continued to rise due to steady demand. The demand has continued in large part due to record-low interest rates. While it is likely they will stay low for at least as long as the Canadian economy faces challenges, sooner or later they will rise.

Housing prices in Vancouver, the North Shore and Richmond have also been heavily influenced by foreign buyers, who pay high prices in desirable areas, often for homes they will never live in. While there is nothing wrong with foreign investment, the continued blind eye to this activity by all levels of government is very disturbing.

At the very least, non-resident buyers should be paying much higher property purchase tax rates, and should also pay higher property taxes — as is the case in some American jurisdictions. This would give the provincial and municipal governments more revenue and perhaps serve as a slight deterrent.

Ads from the ‘yes’ side in the transit plebiscite say one million more people are coming here. Where will they live, and how will they afford it?

Keeping housing affordable should be a major goal of all levels of government.