Vancouver housing: Council wants new tools from province

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has a motion before council calling on the province to give the city better tools to limit the flipping of homes as well as provide information on foreign and domestic buyers and real-time tracking of housing prices and sales.

Council wants to get better data and limit flipping of homes — but says it's up to province

As housing prices continue to increase with no end in sight, Vancouver City Council is asking the province for new tools to help it deal with the issue. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is calling on the provincial government to provide the City with new data and measures to discourage property speculation.

Robertson's motion, which will be tabled at Council's Feb. 2 meeting, also calls on the province to increase property transfer taxes on the sale of the most expensive homes and to use the money collected for affordable housing.

"These are measures that we think would be really useful, but many of them are provincial responsibilities," Coun. Geoff Meggs, who seconded the mayor's motion, told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

Some of the other data and measures Council is asking for includes restrictions on quick "flippping" of homes, information on foreign and domestic buyers and real-time tracking of housing prices and sales.

"All of those measure would give us more information about what's going on in the market but also tamp down some of the speculation and maybe provide some money for affordable housing investment," Meggs said.

The motion notes the findings of two 2015 studies into unaffordability in Vancouver.

The first, from Sotheby's, found the biggest increase in sales for Vancouver homes were those valued at more than $4 million.

The second, from Vancity Credit Union, found, in Metro Vancouver as a whole, housing costs increased by 63 per cent between 2001 to 2014, "a region-wide trend that is likely to trigger future labour shortages."

Meggs says he hopes other municipalities do more to protect existing affordable rental stock as well.

"It's being converted at a very significant rate to condominiums in some suburbs," he said. "We'd like to see that stopped but all we can do is urge that. We can't require that of a neighbouring municipality."

The motion is expected to pass the Vision-controlled council.

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