Max Fawcett, long-time economic/political commentator and editor-in-chief of Vancouver Magazine
, opined that for some time now, the Liberal government has prioritized the safety of capital gains over the improvement of accessibility and affordability in Vancouver, which has been one of Canada’s most expensive markets for some time now.
Fawcett pointed to statements made by B.C. Liberal MLA Laurie Throness, in particular, as adding fuel to the fire in an already overheated market characterized by real estate prices far out of reach of a significant number of Canadians.
“In the course of debating a motion on affordable housing, he argued that people who can’t afford to live in Vancouver should simply choose to relocate elsewhere,” Fawcett said. “More appallingly, he implied that anyone who did have the temerity to complain about the ever-expanding gap between incomes and housing costs in the city is just whining.”
This alluded to Throness’ controversial statement after not being able to purchase a home in Vancouver: “There’s nothing wrong with that. I didn’t go to the papers. I didn’t complain to government. I didn’t complain to the opposition. I didn’t go to the Human Rights Tribunal. I bought in Abbotsford.”
Fawcett lamented the precedent that Throness’ words would set, as these indicate a probable unwillingness on the government’s part to deal with the issue head-on.
“They appear to be representative of an attitude that the BC Liberal government has toward the issue of housing and affordability in Vancouver. In short, their policy appears to be as follows when it comes to the effect rising home prices are having on affordability: like it or lump it,” Fawcett wrote.
Fawcett said that while a significant $355 million (over five years) had been earmarked by Liberal officials for affordable housing, most of these would cater to established owners instead of the next generation: young families and millennial would-be buyers that are having trouble putting down roots in Vancouver.
“Sure, it’s a politically defensible one, given that homeowners tend to be more reliable visitors to the ballot box than young renters. But it could also be a catastrophic one in the long run for a city that depends on its ability to attract and retain talented people,” Fawcett warned.
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Recent statements from Liberal officials governing B.C. have shown that the party is not leaning towards improving affordability in the region’s red-hot housing markets, according to a local observer.