26 February 2018 0 Comments Posted By : Justin McElroy

Green Party pressures B.C. government to specify what 'moderating' housing market means

The Green Party is calling on the B.C. government to offer more specifics on how it will define success in tackling the housing affordability crisis through its 30-point plan.

"What outcomes is the government actually looking for with the plan it's putting forward? We've been stonewalled ... and that's troubling," said leader Andrew Weaver. 

"Public policy is there to design and reach an outcome, and the public deserves to know the direction government is trying to take us."

In Tuesday's budget, Finance Minister Carole James announced a variety of housing-related taxes, including an increase of three to five per cent on the property transfer tax for properties over $3 million and a "speculation tax" that would be applied to vacant homes in large metropolitan areas. 

James has been vague to both reporters and the Green Party in question period regarding the government's precise goals. 

"We're looking to moderate the market," she said several times this week.

"People will always want to live in B.C. But we want to make sure there are houses for people who live and work here."

But left unsaid was what metrics the government would be using to define affordability — including benchmark prices of homes, or ratio of median house prices to median incomes — or what would make them consider changes to the new tax structure. 

"We're going to be watching this housing plan closely. There may be changes that need to occur ... this tax is the first in the country, so we're going to monitor it as we go along," said James. 

Weaver said that without clear goals in place, there's a risk the market could abruptly crash.  

"Let the air come out slowly so the market can stabilize over time. This is what we're hoping to see an outcome with, but we're not getting any direction in that regard," he said.

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