Petition calls for housing speculation tax in BC budget and crackdown on money laundering, shady realtors

By ThinkPol Staff

A petition has been launched to urge British Columbia’s NDP-led government to introduce a housing speculation tax along with a special taskforce to crackdown on money laundering and unethical practices by realtors in Metro Vancouver’s real estate market.

Petitioner Raymond Wong, appeals to Premier John Horgan, Finance Minister Carole James, Attorney General David Eby and Housing Minister Selina Robinson, among others, to implement a raft of measures to address the housing crisis plaguing the region in the upcoming provincial budget slated for February 20[1]

The Burnaby, BC resident gained prominence as the author of the mostly successful federal House of Commons petition E-281, which called for collecting data on the impact of foreign buyers and offshore money in the region’s housing market[2]

“Similar to the petition I started 2 years ago for E-281, I started this petition because many of my friends have either moved away, thinking about moving or still at home living with their parents and cannot start a family,” Wong told ThinkPol. “I consider myself lucky as I got in early but it saddens me to see many locals being priced out and I worry about the future generation which includes my son.”

“In my opinion, Vancouver is becoming a resort town, a playground for the ultra rich, white collar criminals like money launderers, tax evasion and speculators as it is starting to become a ghost city particularly on the West side and Vancouver West,” Wong added. “Schools are in danger of being shut down, locals being taxed out, high cost of living, families taking on second jobs, young professionals seeking opportunities elsewhere, stagnant wages, business closures, etc are some of the reasons what motivated me in writing this petition.”

Wong is part of the non-partisan grassroots group Housing Action for Local Taxpayers (HALT), which has been pressuring all levels of Canadian government to address the housing crisis in Metro Vancouver.

Wong expressed his cautious optimism about the upcoming budget.

“I am hopeful that the NDP will listen, however, we have seen in the past that the government can say one thing and completely do something else,” he said. “Cancelling toll bridges, stronger economy, MSP cuts are not going to make housing more affordable; housing measures are needed.”

“I believe that the NDP government got elected because of housing affordability promises from the 2017 election where the NDP has gotten majority of the seats in the Lower Mainland,” he added. “People want ‘action’ now and because the NDP is making the locals wait till the Feb. 20th budget, people will expect more from them.”

Wong dismissed the notion that all homeowners are tacitly in favour of keeping the housing bubble inflated.

“I, myself am an owner and I don’t mind losing most of my equity so my son, friend’s son, family can stay here in Vancouver,” he said.

The NDP came to power on a platform[3] that included most of the measures being called for in the petition.

We will tax speculation in our housing market.People who buy property in BC but don’t live or work here and leave their property empty will be charged a two per cent tax on speculation. All revenue collected will go into our BC Housing Affordability Fund.”

We’ll close the loopholes that let speculators dodge taxes and hide their identities and we’ll require them to pay their fair share of tax on their empty houses through a yearly two per cent absentee speculators’ tax

We’ll direct the revenue from the absentee speculators’ tax into a Housing Affordability Fund. This fund will support housing affordability initiatives for British Columbians.

We will also establish a multi-agency task force to fight tax fraud and money laundering in the BC real estate marketplace

Wong feels that the NDP government’s survival will depend on listening to the people and fulfilling the promises made during the campaign.

“I am hoping that the NDP will listen and read my petition,” he concluded. “In my opinion, I feel if the NDP doesn’t come through with the housing measures, they’ll be one and done in the next election.”

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