Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today pledged to work with provincial and municipal leaders to find solutions to Vancouver’s housing affordability problems – and strongly hinted that restricting overseas investment in real estate was not going to be one of them.
Speaking in a live TV interview with CTV Morning Live, Trudeau said, “Everyone sees it as a single thing; [housing] is ‘unaffordable.’ Well, why? And how can we best fix it? We know there are a lot of factors. Yes, offshore money coming in is definitely part of the challenge. But there are more issues than just that. So how can we make sure that we are responding in the best way, in a way that is going to help Vancouverites invest in their own future, find rental housing, buy homes? These things are essential.”
He added, “We want to be drawing in money from overseas, to continue to make this an extraordinary city. But we have to be sure we’re doing it in such a way that people can afford their homes."
“The federal government has some pretty big tools, some big levers to pull, but anything we do in Vancouver and also in Toronto… they could have unintended consequences in other housing markets across the country, which aren’t facing the same pressures. So we want to be able to really target it, which means better collaboration with the province and the municipalities."
Trudeau said that he didn't think directly adopting measures such as those taken in Australia, where restrictions have been placed on foreign home ownership, "is going to work – but those are exactly the kinds of conversations we should be having."
“Yes, it’s an important issue to deal with, but that’s what makes it all the more important to deal with it right the first time, and that’s why we’re meeting today with housing experts.”
Trudeau made his comments ahead of a round-table meeting being held today at the Pan Pacific Hotel in downtown Vancouver, to which local politicians and leading housing industry experts were invited to attend and share their solutions.
The Prime Minister also announced with BC Premier Christy Clark yesterday a “phase one” injection of just over $640 million into Lower Mainland transit, which will pay for new SkyTrain and West Coast Express cars, a new SeaBus and the pre-construction work for “phase two,” which will largely comprise the Broadway subway and Surrey LRT.