An independent city council candidate in Vancouver has said that the impact of foreign ownership on the city's skyrocketing housing prices is the most important issue that isn't being discussed by leading mayoral candidates.

Sandy Garossino said that while Suzanne Anton and Gregor Robertson talk a lot about affordable housing, they aren't discussing solutions to the high demand that is driving real estate prices.

"It's clear that we've got a lot of international capital coming in and we have to look at how it's affecting the market and what options we have as a city to do something about it."

Garossino said that if the average median income in Metro Vancouver is $67,500 and the average price of a house in Vancouver stays at around $800,000, then it's locals who will be forced out.

Garossino says other cities facing similar problems have have workable solutions which restrict foreign ownership.


Sandy Garossino is running for Vancouver city council as an independent candidate. ((CBC))

"Singapore has zoning requirements that allow certain areas to be freely available to the international investor and other areas are only available to domestic buyers."

Garossino said she knows there are complex and sensitive issues involved. Still, she said, local affordability needs to be addressed.

"This is such a concern to me. Where are families going to raise their children?"

Anton, Robertson weigh in

The two front-running mayoral candidates in Vancouver say they are aware of the problem facing Vancouver residents looking to buy a home.

Gregor Robertson told CBC News Sunday that the city needs to understand the role foreign ownership is playing before taking any steps to change it.

"I see these next couple years as assessing what the problem is, how significant it is, and what best tools are that might address it," Robertson said.

Suzanne Anton publicly stated last week that she believes Vancouverites shouldn't have to leave their city to buy a home, but the problem isn't foreign ownership.

Anton said that the city needs to cut bureaucratic development costs to encourage an increase in housing stock, and so that developers can pass on savings to buyers.

"Market-based solutions to housing supply are the only effective means of creating real affordability," Anton said.

"Everything else is a gimmick."


  • An earlier version of this story carried the misleading headline "Foreign ownership restrictions sought by Vancouver candidate." The candidate in question, Sandy Garossino, said her position has always been that the city needs to track foreign ownership in order to make informed policy choices, not that the city should implement restrictions on the ability of foreigners to purchase real estate.
    Mar 23, 2013 12:05 AM PT
With files from the CBC's Deborah Goble