Clear lines of division on display between B.C. Liberals and B.C. NDP over housing

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      The news media routinely filter what other people are saying for their readers, viewers, and listeners. 

      Often, this can add context where it's missing, introduce accountability, and provide useful background information.

      But on some occasions, it's helpful for the media to simply get out of the way and let the public hear what's being said.

      This morning, I've decided to reproduce the unfiltered views of the B.C. Liberals and NDP to illustrate stark contrasts between these parties on the housing issue.

      First, you'll see an unedited open letter by B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, followed by an NDP news release responding to what he said.

      B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson thinks the NDP government should be focusing far more attention on increasing the supply of housing.

      Wilkinson's open letter on housing

      To whom it may concern:

      Housing is a fundamental need in our society, and we know that currently, housing is unaffordable for many British Columbians. We need clear and easily understood policies at all levels of government that help, not hinder, new housing development for all British Columbians.

      The government has made grand promises to build more affordable housing, yet their actions so far will limit new development and drive away investment capital from B.C. Drastically increasing taxes on home sales and new construction will not result in more housing for people who need it right now. The current government thinks they can ignore market trends and solve the housing crisis on their own, without partnerships with builders and investors.

      The NDP’s plan is to build 1700 units over the next year. Not only is this more than 80,000 short of their campaign promise, it does not even approach what is necessary to increase availability and reduce prices. When we recognize that B.C.’s population grows by 60,000 people per year, we can see this NDP plan is hopelessly out of touch with reality.

      Building more supply is essential to ensure that all British Columbians have access to affordable housing. As noted by industry, the multiple tax measures introduced by this government will increase the costs of building residential homes, and those costs will be passed on to property purchasers and their tenants.

      The increased Property Transfer Tax is applied at each point of the development process and will be ultimately paid by home buyers. Similarly, the increased “School” Property Tax as applied annually will add even greater costs to residential housing and negatively impact housing affordability. Finally, the yet-to-be-clarified “Speculation” Tax will not even target speculators. In its current form it will focus on property owners, builders, British Columbian homeowners, out-of-province vacationers, and foreign owners alike. The lack of detail on this tax makes it difficult to determine the full scope of its impact, other than the fact that it will cost everyone more, putting the construction and tourism industries at risk.

      It isn’t just affordable housing that is put at risk by the NDP’s reckless new taxes. Over 230,000 families in BC will have a meal on their table tonight thanks to the construction industry. The GDP directly generated by the industry is $23 billion. From this, the province receives $1.2 billion in tax revenues that help pay for new schools and medical care.

      Increasing supply is the only way we can make sure everyone is B.C. has a decent place to live. The total of new, unsold, multi-family homes for sale across Metro Vancouver, has fallen 74% from 2013.

      The government needs to work with industry to ensure that the number of new homes rises every year. However, the current NDP government seems to be doing what they can to unfairly target builders and drastically shrink housing supply.

      There is clearly an affordability issue in British Columbia. We need to work together to fix it. However, workable solutions do not include making our province an unattractive place to invest and build. Ownership does not always mean wealth, and sweeping tax changes targeting people who are perceived as wealthy can have major unintended consequences on investments, on jobs and on everyone’s way of life. This is why the NDP need to completely overhaul their property tax package, and get ready to accommodate 60,000 new British Columbians every year.

      Sincerely yours,

      Andrew Wilkinson

      Leader, BC Liberal Official Opposition

      MLA, Vancouver – Quilchena

      Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson has accused the B.C. Liberals of going to bat for those who own the most valuable homes in the province.

      B.C. NDP rebuttal

      As most British Columbians struggle to afford housing, Wilkinson stands with top 2% of homeowners

      Yesterday, BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson came out against the NDP’s tax increases on luxury homes worth over $3 million.

      Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the BC Liberal record of protecting people at the top is one of the reasons housing is so expensive for most British Columbians.

      “For 16 years, Andrew Wilkinson’s BC Liberals stood with the top 2% of British Columbians while making life more expensive for everyone else,” said Robinson. “Today he is showing that he hasn’t learned a thing. His plan to let the richest 2% off the hook would mean even higher housing costs for people.”

      The government’s Homes for BC plan says the increases to the property transfer tax and the school tax rate “not only ask the wealthiest to contribute a little bit more, but they will help to stabilize housing prices.”

      Only the most expensive 2% of BC houses ($3 million and up) will be impacted by these two taxes. But Wilkinson is concerned that these changes “will negatively impact housing affordability” for people who buy or already own homes worth more than $3 million.

      Robinson says the new NDP government is focused on the British Columbians who were left behind under the BC Liberals.

      “After years of BC Liberal giveaways to people at the top, I’m proud that our government is working for the other 98% British Columbians,” said Robinson. “Our 30-point housing plan will tackle speculation, tax luxury homes, and create 114,000 units of affordable rental housing over the next 10 years.”