British Columbia

Bob Rennie: 'We can never build another single family home'

Bob Rennie says the only way to make Vancouver more affordable is to build more housing, which means increased densification — a proposition that generally meets with strong opposition in primarily single-family home neighbourhoods.

Vancouver's housing affordability crisis is all about supply, says Bob Rennie

Vancouver "condo king" Bob Rennie says the solution to Vancouver's housing crisis is increased densification, especially along transit corridors. (CBC)

Lower Mainland real estate magnate Bob Rennie says Vancouver's housing affordability crisis comes down to one key factor: a lack of supply.

The man who's been called Vancouver's "condo king" says the only way to make the city more affordable is to build more housing, which means increased densification — a proposition that generally meets with strong opposition in primarily single-family neighbourhoods.

Rennie said this resistance needs to end if Vancouver wants home ownership to be even remotely possible for anyone beyond the super-rich.

"We live in a city where we can never build another single family home again," Rennie told Early Edition host Rick Cluff. "We can't have low density and low prices. That's over."

"I don't know why there is this aversion to it, but it's all causing higher prices."

Better transit needed to outlying suburbs

Another way to relieve the pressure, Rennie said, is to improve transit infrastructure within the Lower Mainland as a whole, and to increase densification along transit corridors, particularly around transit stations.

Rennie notes that he does make his living selling the very condos he says are the solution. But, while he does support a speculation tax, he said densification is the only solution that makes sense, compared to other proposed solutions such as taxing foreign ownership.

"You think a 10 per cent tax on a five-million-dollar home is going to stop that sale?" Rennie said.

Rennie said statistics for the city of Vancouver are often misread as statistics that apply to the whole region. According to Rennie, condos are up to 50 per cent cheaper in suburbs such as Surrey and Coquitlam, compared to downtown Vancouver.

But he said a strong transit backbone is needed for any of those cities to be desirable options for anyone having to commute to Vancouver.

He called for stronger leadership from local governments, saying they will need to make some politically unpopular moves regarding densification and transit if housing is ever going to be affordable in the region.

"Nobody's talking tough. We all just sort of circle the drain on it."

With files from CBC's The Early Edition.

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