British Columbia

B.C. Green leader suggests ban on foreign real estate buyers

If B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver had his way, a ban on foreign buyers investing in the province's real estate market would be announced in the upcoming budget.

Andrew Weaver says Vancouver's foreign buyer tax doesn't go far enough

B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver suggests the provincial government mimic New Zealand's ban on foreign real estate buyers. (CBC)

If B.C. Green Party Leader, Andrew Weaver had his way, a ban on foreign buyers investing in the province's real estate market would be announced in the upcoming budget.

"This is unsustainable," said Weaver. "If we don't curb the amount of the demand side of this equation, it's only going to get worse."

New Zealand cracks down on foreign buyers

New Zealand's government is the most recent to implement such a ban. There, foreign buyers can only purchase properties that are being built. When it comes to selling existing homes, foreign buyers aren't allowed.

In B.C., Weaver says it would be put in place to make owning a home a reality for more people.

"Owning property is something that there's a sense of pride there. You're able to make an investment for your retirement," he said.

The province says it's looking at ways to cool the red-hot housing market. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Ban 'not being considered'

In an email, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James says the government is looking at different options to cool the housing market but a ban on foreign investors isn't one of them.

"As part of planning for Budget 2018, we are evaluating existing and proposed housing tax measures to improve housing affordability for British Columbians," she said. 

"This review includes the issue of speculation in B.C.'s housing market; however, a ban on foreign ownership of homes is not being considered as part of Budget 2018 planning. British Columbians are proud to welcome thousands of newcomers each year who help strengthen our province."

Surtax suggested

Josh Gordon, an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University's School of Public Policy, suggests a surtax on foreign buyers might be better than a ban.

"What that means is people owning property with foreign income and wealth who are using social services, they would be paying their fair share of taxes," explained Gordon.

The 2018 provincial budget is expected to be released in February.