Vancouver residents rally for affordable housing
VANCOUVER — Improving government policies and stronger lobbying clout by Canadians under the age of 40 were just some of the solutions floated at an affordable housing rally today in Vancouver.
The event was co-organized by Eveline Xia, the Vancouver woman behind the #donthave1million social media campaign, which was launched with the intent of highlighting the frustration she and others feel about the soaring housing costs in the city.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that this would have happened,” said Xia. “I’m extremely pleased that the community is finally standing up and speaking for themselves.”
Thanks, in part, to Xia’s Twitter campaign, there’s been plenty of talk recently about how to keep Vancouver’s hot housing market from squeezing out Vancouverites and first time buyers. The suggestions include a Speculation Tax–an idea that’s recently been floated by the city’s mayor.
In response to today’s rally, Gregor Robertson issued a statement, calling on the federal government to do more.
“One of the biggest ways we could boost affordability in Vancouver and cities across the country is for the federal government to re-engage in housing. Steady, long-term cutbacks from the federal government are compounding our affordability challenges,” he said.
Organizers say what’s also needed is a better understanding of the impact foreign ownership might be having on housing prices.
“From the provincial government, I would like them to start looking at the data. Without the data we can’t move forward, we can’t find a solution. We want them to start researching as soon as possible. All these other countries have already gone forward and researched the data, but we haven’t even looked at it,” said Xia.
UBC associate professor Paul Kershaw agrees, adding there are a number of ideas that have already been presented about the kinds of policy changes needed.
“The VanCity report that came out earlier has a number of important options that are about changing zoning, workplace housing, renewing leases for social housing which are about changing incentives for developers to create more family sized homes and also create more rental options,” said Kershaw.
In addition, he believes stronger lobbying clout by Canadians under 40–similar to the Canadian Association of Retired Persons–will go a long way to getting the government to pay attention.
“Governments know younger Canadian’s aren’t playing politics in the same way and they can to some degree tune us out. The only way to make this city, this province and the country more affordable to live in is for younger Canadians to seize back some of our political clout, build that and match it as our parents and grandparents are doing in the world of politics.”
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