One Green council candidate backs a rent freeze, and a second backs property surtax on expensive homes

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      The platform of the Vancouver Greens does not mention the words “rent freeze” or “mansion tax”, but one of their council candidates has expressed his conditional support for both ideas.

      In a series of responses to a questionnaire from the Vancouver Tenants Union, Pete Fry stated that if he’s elected, he would “approach the provincial government to enact a four year rent freeze”.

      Fry added the caveat that this would be on the condition that the province would be “providing some sort of intervention to protect and maintain affordable rental stock and a means to insulate landlords from legitimate maintenance and inflation costs”.

      “This could be a tax rebate or write off,” Fry declared.

      He added that he would “further suggest that the ‘school tax’ would be better directed to protect rental stock in the area it is being extracted”. In addition, Fry supported a one percent hike in property tax the value of homes in excess of $5 million and a two percent hike for values exceeding $10 million.

      “Like the school tax, I think it is important that this revenue stays in the community that generates it in order to offset the impacts of housing costs that are grossly disconnected from our local incomes,” Fry stated.

      In the same survey, incumbent Green council candidate Adriane Carr revealed that she would not support a four-year rent freeze unless funding could be found “to cover inflationary increases in the cost of maintaining rental accommodation”. She acknowledged that she supports the so-called mansion tax.

      The two other Green council candidates, Michael Wiebe and David Wong, did not respond to the survey. As a result, the Greens received a “B” from the Vancouver Tenants Union, compared to an “A” for the Coalition of Progressive Electors, whose three council candidates also support a rent freeze, banning renovictions, billing landlords for repairs, and a “mansion tax”.

      Fry and Carr's openness to embracing part of COPE’s housing platform raises questions whether the two parties could control council should they elect at least six members to the chamber on Saturday (October 20).

      Meanwhile, a council candidate for the left-wing OneCity Vancouver, has expressed concerns that supporters of progressive parties might be tempted to “plump”—i.e. only vote for members of their preferred party. Christine Boyle told the Straight that this could result in fewer overall votes for progressives with OneCity, Vision Vancouver, COPE, and the Vancouver Greens.

      She maintained that plumping could help the more right-wing NPA win control of council, which hasn’t occurred since the 2005 election.

      “Whatever small differences we have, they’re not as significant as the very real problem that an NPA majority would cause,” Boyle said.

      OneCity Vancouver favours measures that would increase the vacancy rate and lead to the development of more rental accommodation rather than embracing a rent freeze. It received a “B” grade from the Vancouver Tenants Union.