Rather than discharge its responsibility to ensure the best possible environment for their citizens, the federal and provincial governments pursued, over a period of several decades, policies that focused on making the Vancouver market more attractive to foreigners—policies that, an analyst argued, ended up sabotaging the prospects of domestic consumers instead.
In a November 12 piece for the Vancouver Sun
, diversity and migration columnist Douglas Todd stated that public officials—in particular, Immigration Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency—have failed in their mandate to protect “Metro Vancouver residents from forms of rule-bending and law-breaking that have been significant contributors to city housing becoming gravely unaffordable.”
A misguided attempt by the governments to avoid being deemed racist has instead led to the “ridiculous” rates of home price growth visible today in the country’s hottest markets, he added.
“[One] way or another … those responsible for immigration and taxation have been encouraging their staff to look the other way while subterfuge has contributed to housing prices becoming ridiculous,” Todd explained.
“Such failures happen when politicians insist too strongly on de-regulation and ‘cutting red tape’ and when they are more committed to making it easier for outside wealth to enter the city’s housing market than they are to protecting constituents.”
Among the unscrupulous practices that have flourished in this lax environment was money laundering via Vancouver’s luxury properties, leading to many owners—who in many cases are not actually residents themselves—successfully avoiding paying taxes, at once cutting into the public coffers and igniting feverish bidding wars that have inflated prices to unprecedented levels.
“Because of the absence of cooperation, many Metro house owners have been avoiding paying capital gains taxes. They have been falsely claiming they are residents of Canada for tax and immigration purposes when they are actually mostly living outside the country and not disclosing their foreign income.”
“My simple hope is to show that Canadian and B.C. politicians must, at the minimum, enforce their own laws and standards,” Todd concluded. “Otherwise they’re not representing their constituents. And public trust is gone.”
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