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Greens push tough housing policies ahead of BC Budget

The BC Green Party is still pressing for a ban on overseas residents purchasing provincial property, ahead of the upcoming BC Budget announcement
andrew weaver
Andrew Weaver, BC Green Party leader, is calling on the NDP to implement a range of measures on housing. | Dan Toulgoet


A new document “Seeking Bold Action: Housing Priorities for Budget 2018,” with tough recommendations for changes to housing policy ahead of February's BC Budget, was released January 31 by the Green Party.

The document sets out the BC Green Party’s #boldaction housing plan, which reiterates calls for a ban on overseas residents buying BC real estate – despite Premier John Horgan recently pouring cold water on the idea.

At a press conference in Victoria Wednesday morning, Green party leader Andrew Weaver said that only people who work, live and pay taxes locally should be able to buy property in Vancouver and BC.

The document also calls for a speculation tax on property being used by absentee investors to park money – taking the form of an annual property tax surcharge, like an empty homes tax. The proposal points out that this would cover existing domestic investors, including BC residents and other Canadians, as well as existing overseas investors.

In addition to the annual absentee investor tax, the plan suggests a tax on short-term flipping of properties. “The tax should be levied on a sliding scale with the highest rate imposed on properties sold within a year, reducing to zero over a given number of years.”

The document also proposes a number of additional measures, including:

  • closing the bare trusts loophole, which allows property owned by a trust to be transferred to an individual or corporation without them having to pay property transfer tax;
  • extending the foreign buyer tax to apply to presales and agricultural land, and allowing municipalities outside Metro Vancouver to opt in;
  • regulating and restricting short-term rentals;
  • rethinking zoning;
  • eliminating the BC HOME down payment loan scheme; and
  • providing means-tested support to those in housing need.

The same day, Vancouver’s sole Green Party councillor, Adriane Carr, tabled a notice of a motion calling on Victoria to restrict foreign buyers in the Vancouver and to tax flipping and speculation, with revenues to go to affordable housing schemes.