January 28, 2019

Councillors Christine Boyle and Khelsilem Discuss Housing Affordability on This is Vancolour

On the latest episode of the This is Vancolour podcast, Vancouver City Councillor Christine Boyle and Squamish First Nation Councillor Khelsilem chat with host Mo Amir and dive deep into the issues affecting our region.

And it’s no surprise that housing and affordability remain the most important issue of the day. In this episode, both councillors offer solutions on how the City can build more housing while meeting the objective of making Vancouver more affordable.

Mole Hill homes

The Mole Hill rental community sits on City of Vancouver land. Photo by Joe Mabel.

OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle says a tool the City could use towards affordability is in the creation of a Land Value Tax. With this tax structure, the City has the opportunity to raise funds to pay for social and non-profit housing, community services, and more transit investments. Expanding transit and supporting the development of more social and non-profit housing meet the target of affordability on which Christine was elected:

“The idea of a land value tax is that we can capture the lift in the value of any piece of land at any time. Often that lift is created by public investments like infrastructure projects, subways, a new bus route, parks, or it’s created by a change in zoning and land-use. The idea of a land value tax is that a portion of that publicly created wealth goes back to the public for public priorities like more robust transit and truly affordable housing in every neighbourhood.”

For members of the Squamish, Tsleil Waututh, and Musqueam First Nations, access to affordable housing is also priority number one. Councillor Khelsilem believes that the City can continue to be a leader in reconciliation and indigenous justice by repatriating City-owned lands to benefit the members of the local First Nations:

“The City has already acknowledged that this is Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil Waututh land, that’s not an argument we are having anymore. So if the City is going to be giving up land for non-profit housing, here’s an opportunity to practice real reconciliation by saying ‘we’re going to give the land back to the community so that they can build housing for their members on it'”.

The possibility of achieving true affordability in our region rests on the ideas that our elected officials bring to the table. In this day of escalating land value, does it not make sense to capture some of the value that has been artificially inflating real estate prices, and to return that money to the public purse?

Image of Christine Boyle and Khelsilem

Councillors Christine Boyle and Khelsilem on This Is Vancolour

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  1. These proposals are deeply troubling ! They are essentially theft from private property owners. Home ownership is a core function of the Canadian value system, wealth creation, entrepreneurship, retirement and independence from public sector overreach.

    A land value tax, in other words, hefty taxation of property gains over time, benefits mainly an already grossly overpaid and far too large public sector apparatus that is unable to even control relatively small expenditures in its own central HQ, the BC Legislature. And we want those very same people to get even more billions to provide more housing ?

    What’s next? Nationalize the oil industry, the car industry, the airline industry, bread makers, phone service providers, shoemakers and clothing manufacturers as all those industries too provide vital Canadian products and services !

    The correct approach, rather than ever higher taxes is to leverage private capital with government polices and incentives. Since building rental properties, esp affordable, sub-market rental units, are not nearly as profitable as condos on the same plot of land, governments needs to provide incentives, such as cheap financing, land leases for $1, coops, reduced regulations and/or faster building approvals to create more supply. Look no further than red state (shudder?) Texas, for example, where an array of housing initiatives on city, state and federal level provides ample new and affordable housing for millions.

    Only the private industry can provide far more housing units efficiently. Government exists to foster that environment, not strangulate that and private home ownership.

    Socialism has failed everywhere else, why would it succeed in BC ?

    1. Capture of the land value that is increased as result of public infrastructure investments can be used to pay for them instead of the taxpayers who don” t benefit.—— The proposed UBC subway to be mostly paid for by people who will never ride it is an example of where this tax should be used

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