Change is in the air! When I was looking around for something meaningful to do with my life, I began reading more and more about the upcoming election and the issues that were being brought up in the media over and over again. The biggest, by far, was the issue of affordable housing and everything surrounding it. How has this happened? What can we do to prevent it? How long will this take to implement?
The fact is, if you are spending more than 30% of your take-home income on housing, it is too much. If you are making $80,000, the average wage of someone working in Vancouver, and you look around and see the average house is 1.5 million while the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver this year is $1,552 a month, it doesn’t take a genius to know that this is problematic. It is especially a challenge for families, the elderly and the disabled, not to mention refugees or those who are living on the street..
Solving this problem, along with a Council that are on the same page, would be my goal.
The other side of the story are some of the people who are being asked to help solve the financial crisis we are in that is responsible for people leaving Vancouver in droves. These are often people who bought a house when it was still affordable and lived in it for the last 40 to 50 years. These houses are now worth millions, in some cases, and there are all kinds of ways that the federal, provincial & local government wants to get their share of this money. Often these homes are someone’s “retirement plans”, as nobody can live off of the pittance that Seniors actually get in their Canada Pension Plan.
Another group of people that are now expected to help solve financial challenges are small business owners, whose property tax has gone up by 80%. Businesses that have been around for 30 to 40 years are going under and being shut down at alarming rates. We need to support our small business owners, especially those who are part of the fabric of community and make Vancouver the interesting place it is today.
The last group of people that are being newly taxed are the empty homes tax, which is different than speculation tax or foreign owners tax. People used to buy a home for their family and a condo for their retirement. Or they might have an empty home because they spend 6 months of the year travelling (would be nice) or have a vacation home. Part of my mandate is being fair. I am not sure dinging hard-working Canadians who saved their money and invested in real estate at the right time is the right thing to do.
So, while I love oceans and support the environment, I also see the need for money and supporting those who make it with taxes that aren’t too taxing and regulations that aren’t too onerous.