While the Conservatives have promised a moratorium on foreign investment in housing, the NDP plans to create 500,000 units of affordable housing in 10 years.
Federal parties have been revealing their promises on housing on the campaign trail, leading up to the Sept. 20 federal election, as the housing market continues to be red hot in Richmond, the Lower Mainland and many other urban areas in Canada.
Kenny Chiu, running for re-election in Steveston-Richmond East as the Conservative candidate, said Richmond mirrors a common scenario in the Lower Mainland whereby there are a plethora of vacant homes owned by foreign investors.
“That has, unfortunately, inadvertently jacked up prices to a level that is no longer affordable for our next generations,” Chiu said.
The moratorium would bring stability to the housing market, Chiu said.
But Conservatives don’t want to ban all foreign investment, rather it should be directed at rental housing, Chiu said.
“We welcome their investment, but we would welcome (them to) channel their investment into rental housing market, for example, so we can provide more housing units for people to rent,” Chiu said.
Furthermore, Chiu said Conservatives would cut red tape and provide the necessary conditions to increase supply.
Chiu called the empty homes tax, currently in place in B.C., a “tax grab.”
A tax just cuts into the profit margin of an investor, Chiu said, but it won’t stop the housing market from staying “spicy hot.”
Chiu called the empty homes tax “smoke and mirrors” claiming that, like the carbon tax doesn’t help the environment, the empty home tax doesn’t address the housing crisis.
The NDP, in the meantime, is proposing a 20-per-cent foreign buyers’ tax to discourage speculative investment from overseas, which makes prices skyrocket, and affects supply as well as rents, explained Sandra Nixon, the NDP candidate in Richmond Centre.
In addition to the foreign buyers’ tax, the NDP is promising, if elected to government, to create 500,000 new affordable housing units across Canada within 10 years.
“Even folks trying to rent in our city, rents are out of reach and they’ve moved out,” Nixon said.
Nixon said the 500,000 units would be created using “a number of angles,” for example, working with non-profit housing advocacy groups, having “fast-start funds” and offering expertise and resources to support groups that want to build housing.
Another way to create homes is to use under-utilized federal land for housing, Nixon said.
The 500,000 units is a lot more than what non-profit advocacy groups are calling for, she added.
“I do think it’s absolutely appropriate for us to have ambitious targets – we do have to have substance to go along with those targets to go along with that vision,” Nixon said.
Nixon said she doesn’t want to be “pie in the sky,” but “we can’t think small.”
The Liberals also announced Monday, they would put a two-year moratorium on foreign investment in housing.