Global Issues Dialogue takes place in Victoria


A panel of industry, business and community leaders converged on Victoria to discuss the housing crisis.  Among the speakers at the Global Issues Dialogue are ex-BC Premier Mike Harcourt, and former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

Harcourt says the age of single family homes is over:

" You know the solution, you if I could wave a magic wand, I'd get rid of single family zoning throughout the lower mainland." 

Harcourt  says duplexes, townhomes and row houses must be embraced, with multi-use developments close to schools with declining populations.  And he adds the speculation tax is being applied in too broad a fashion, and needs a second look by the premier:

" We have always had premiers have a famous second look. But was W.A.C. Bennett who did it, I did it in the 90's. You know I saw a goof when we had a tax brought in that captured housing over $500-thousand which I didn't know was in  the budget until all hell broke loose.  And I went and exercised the premier's prerogative which was 19 votes vs. 18 for the cabinet and got rid of it." 
Saskatchewan's Wall says BC's speculation tax isn't doing anything for the provincial "brand" which now says "go away" instead of "welcome":

" You know I've got folks at home, lots of people in Swift Current, Saskatchewan have property in some of the targeted areas of the speculation tax and they wonder how -- you know they don't feel, necessarily very welcome anymore.  And one of them who has a place in Kelowna said for him B.C. just means bring cash." 

Peter Fassbender, BC's former Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, says the tax is putting a stranglehold on construction and investment, and will negatively affect supply.

Victoria Developer Ken Mariash hosted the event at his Bayview Place property in Vic West, which he used to highlight another problem.

He's been trying to complete his project in Vic West for 20 years, but says certain councillors, zoning, permitting, and costly regulations have gotten in the way. 

Mariash says councils like Victoria's need to realize they have helped create the housing shortage and rising prices:

" If it wasn't for those people we wouldn't have to worry about speculation taxes because we'd over build. You let developers go and they will  always over build. I've been at it 50 years and we've done it everytime.  But if you don't let us build people are going to be playing games with the inventory that's left. That's the nature of business. Speculation works only when there's no supply." 

The conference will be followed by additional events in the coming months.

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