British Columbia

NDP continues to question how Vancouverites with little income can own expensive homes

NDP housing critic David Eby is once again calling for changes to the tax system after compiling new data on land titles in Vancouver.

Party searched sales of 250 properties on West Side, found 31 were bought by homemakers or students

Single homes near Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Park appear tightly stacked in a telephoto close-up photograph.
A neighbourhood full of single family homes in Vancouver. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

NDP housing critic David Eby is once again calling for changes to the tax system after compiling new data on land titles in Vancouver.

"I don't believe Revenue Canada is treating this seriously. I don't think the province is treating this seriously," said Eby at a news conference where he unveiled more data, compiled by the NDP, on who owns property on Vancouver's expensive West Side. 

The data looks at 250 properties in Mackenzie Heights, traditionally a middle-income neighbourhood located between Dunbar, Kerrisdale and Shuahgnessy. 

Of those homes, 26 were owned by people who identified their occupation as homemaker, while another six owners said they were students. 

In total, they owned $107 million in property — and Eby is questioning where that money came from.

"I hope this information will go some distance to convince the premier that this is legit information from the province's land title system," he said. 

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Eby, who held a similar news conference two weeks ago, believes the the money is inflating Vancouver's real estate market, and that some aren't paying the capital gains tax by gifting the property to people with little to no income.

"A large group of people are using our housing market as an investment, rather than a place to live or are seeking to evade taxes," he said. 

Eby said that while there's no evidence that any of the homemakers or students did anything illegal, he said it points to a need for more government regulation of the market. 

"The reason we need to continually evaluate what's happening in the market, is because people work within the rules," he said. 

"If you can give your wife a gift of $2.3 million to buy a home, and thereby avoid the capital gains tax ... maybe it's time to address how we look at the tax system."

Eby is calling on the province to cross-reference home sales and income tax information, as well as an additional property tax on people who aren't paying taxes in B.C.

His news conference came on the same day Swiss bank UBS ranked Vancouver as the global city most likely to experience a sudden downward correction in housing prices

With files from Farrah Merali