Mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart targets foreign buyers in Vancouver housing plan

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      Kennedy Stewart is promising not only to enable the construction of thousands of homes if elected this fall as mayor of Vancouver.

      The outgoing NDP Burnaby South MP is also going make it difficult for foreign buyers to get their hands on these new homes.

      Stewart on Monday (September 10) released the first of his two-part platform on housing, which includes actions against investors.

      Stewart plan vows to “protect between one-third and one-half of all new homes from foreign speculation”.

      “Uncontrolled foreign capital investment has driven up housing prices in cities all around the world,” Stewart stated in the platform. “I’ll make sure we’re building homes for local people and families, not foreign investors.”

      Earlier this year, the B.C. NDP government increased the foreign home buyer tax and expanded the coverage of the levy outside Metro Vancouver.

      The previous government previously imposed a 15 additional property tax for foreign individuals and corporations buying a home in the Lower Mainland.

      Starting February 21, 2018, the tax will be 20 percent, and in addition to Metro Vancouver, other areas covered are the Capital Regional District, Fraser Valley Regional District, Regional District of Central Okanagan, and Regional District of Nanaimo.

      In a media release, Stewart said that “tough measures” are needed to “fight the speculation that is rampant within our city”.

      “This includes getting big money influence out of city hall and protecting our local housing market from global financial forces and speculators,” Stewart stated in the release.

      In December 2017, Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a joint report stating that Canadians and non-Canadians who do not live in Metro Vancouver own 4.8 percent of homes in the region.

      The same report noted that the City of Vancouver had the biggest rate of non-resident ownership at 7.6 percent.

      In another measure against speculation, Stewart also pledged to triple the empty home tax. This tax currently stands at one percent of the property’s assessed value.

      On the supply side, Stewart is promising to focus on building 25,000 not-for-profit affordable rental homes.

      Stewart will also support the development of 35,000 new condominiums, coach houses, and townhouses over the next decade.

      Owners of single-family properties can expect Stewart’s help if they are going to redevelop their lots for additional housing.

      “I’ll expand opportunities for more ground-oriented housing in our least dense neighbourhoods, including expediting the construction of triplexes and fourplexes on standard lots and removing barrier to converting large homes into multi-family residences,” according to Stewart.