Port Coquitlam councillor says high-cost homes spreading to suburbs

Municipal and provincial politicians have failed to confront Vancouver's high-priced housing market, according to a Port Coquitlam councillor who says out of reach, million dollar homes have spread to suburban communities once considered affordable.

Brad West says provincial politicians burying their heads in the sand

Port Coquitlam Councillor Brad West says B.C. politicians must confront the impact of foreign ownership on Vancouver-area housing. (City of Port Coquitlam)

Municipal and provincial politicians have failed to confront Vancouver's high-priced housing market, according to a Port Coquitlam politician who says out of reach, million dollar homes have spread to suburban communities.

Councillor Brad West says he wants politicians to address the high cost of Vancouver-area housing, but they're deliberately dodging the issue.

"They'd rather keep their heads in the sand and hope that it just goes away." West told CBC News. "What I'm saying is that politicians need to stop BS-ing people.

"They're kind of trying to ignore the issue, pretending it doesn't exist."

West said he's speaking out because a generation of young people are being squeezed out of the housing market.

Traditionally, he said, young families have moved to the suburbs where housing prices are lower. But even Vancouver's suburbs are becoming out of reach. Out of curiosity, West said he went to an open house in his mother's neighbourhood.

PoCo asking price tops $1M

The house was a modest, two-storey, 2,400 square foot home priced at $1.1 million.

"I think to myself 'Holy smokes, this is PoCo,'" West said.

"Generally, people have come to Port Coquitlam because it's a more affordable place for families," he said. "My own family, that's our story. My parents moved from North Burnaby to Port Coquitlam in the the 80s. And we have a great community.

Brad West said he viewed this Port Coquitlam home with an asking price of $1.1 million. (MLS)

"It's a middle class, working class community and I thought, 'How is anyone in our community ever going to be able to afford to live in a home listed at $1.1 million?

The realtor told West he expected the house would sell in a week, that he'd get multiple offers and the seller would receive more than the asking price. He told West that the high price was fuelled by overseas demand.

Foreign ownership in the Vancouver housing market has become a contentious issue. A study conducted last year that suggested that foreign buyers from China are fuelling price increases sparked cries of racism.

West, 30, said he owns a home, but others his own age aren't so lucky.

"I've been hearing from people my own age saying, 'How am I ever going to afford a home?'"

West said he'd like to see discussion on legislative options to dampen the housing market, including imposing restrictions on non-residential ownership and taxing homes sold by non-residents.

In the last month, the provincial government has moved to address high housing prices.

Province to collect housing data

As part of the provincial budget last month, B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced plans to begin collecting data on foreign ownership in B.C.'s booming housing market.

Beginning this summer, the province will force individuals buying property to disclose if they are citizens or permanent residents of Canada; if not, they will have to disclose their citizenship and country of residence. The rules will also apply to individual transferees and directors of corporations involved in the purchase of property.

West said he hopes his comments spur more politicians to speak out.

"I think the solution is first to start talking about it," he said. "We haven't been able to have an honest discussion about it because a lot of people are wary of it. I think a lot of politicians are scared to talk about it. 

"They don't want to viewed as politically incorrect."

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