B.C. man launches petition urging Ottawa to regulate foreign ownership
Amid soaring housing prices and concerns that overseas investors are driving up the market, an online petition is calling on Ottawa to regulate foreign real estate ownership in Canada.
The petition, which was created by a Burnaby, B.C. man and sponsored by NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, brings the concerns of many Metro Vancouver residents to the federal government.
It calls on the feds to start collecting data on off-shore investment in Canada's real estate market, and examine how "housing vacancies, flipping and speculation are driving up home prices."
The petition also urges the government to consider restricting foreign ownership. Several countries including Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong have already placed restrictions on foreign ownership.
As of Monday morning, more than 2,300 people have signed the petition.
Kennedy told CTV Vancouver that there is a need to start collecting information on foreign ownership in the city's red-hot real estate market.
"We have very little information of what's going on in the housing market here," he said.
But not everyone is on board with the idea. B.C. Premier Christy Clark opposes restricting foreign ownership.
"What he's proposing wouldn't work," Clark said during a recent news conference. "And it probably wouldn't work for a lot of people who own homes."
Residents in the Metro Vancouver area have watched as home prices have skyrocketed, far outpacing most people’s incomes. It's estimated that the average price of a detached home in Vancouver is roughly 15 times the average income of most people who live and work in the city.
Caroline Adderson bought her family home decades ago. She says she feels like she's won the lottery, as she's watched its value climb over the years.
However, she's seen how rising home prices have negatively impacted her community.
"The house is so much more than we ever dreamed, (but) is that a benefit when we've lost all our neighbours?" she said.
Adderson, who wrote a book and created a website that tracks Vancouver home demolitions, supports the petition even though it could hurt her own investment.
NDP MLA David Eby said the petition raises important questions about the purpose of housing.
"When you have a real estate market that doesn't serve the local economy, you have to ask questions about what is it serving; what is its purpose?" he said.
"If you're paying your worldwide taxes in British Columbia and you're buying property, that's fine. The concern is people who aren't paying taxes here, who aren't contributing, who are buying properties and driving up the values."
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Sarah MacDonald