Less than 12 months prior to the next provincial election, a recent poll revealed that affordable housing is the foremost concern among B.C. voters.
In its latest study, the Innovative Research Group Inc. found that at least 17 per cent of B.C. residents considered home affordability as the most important issue in the province at present—ahead of environmental concerns (8 per cent) and health care (7 per cent), The Globe and Mail
“In terms of what’s most pressing today, the top-of-mind response tells us it’s affordable housing. That is on the tip of the tongue for people,” Innovative Research managing director Greg Lyle said.
In addition, 83 per cent of the 600 random respondents agreed that the government should take the lead in keeping residential real estate price down.
“Affordable housing is an issue that picks itself for attention,” Lyle stated. “To ignore that issue for either [the Liberals or the NDP] would be to alienate core parts of the electorate.”
83 per cent of the poll respondents noted that government should make education more affordable, while 80 per cent called for authorities to keep the cost of living down. Meanwhile, 78 per cent of the poll respondents cited the need for more action on jobs and economic development.
Earlier this month, the provincial government implemented a 15 per cent property transfer tax on foreign home buyers. Agents have decried the move as an indicator of deep-seated discrimination, and various observers have voiced skepticism over the government’s claims that the tax will cool down the market.
“It is certainly within the realm of possibility that if foreign buyers left this market, there could be something along the lines of a crash, which politically would be very bad for the Liberals,” according to Thomas Davidoff, associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.
However, Davidoff hastened to add that the tax was the correct first step in addressing the problem, even if he has reservations about the way the levy was designed and implemented.
“I think they really did something fairly major that needed to be done, and I certainly hope they will stick to their guns on this.”
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