Burnaby man petitions federal government to track Vancouver foreign ownership

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WATCH: Activists are calling for Burnaby to implement a development moratorium to save older apartments from being bulldozed in favour of new condos. Randene Neill reports – May 16, 2016

A Burnaby man has launched a petition to the House of Commons asking the Government of Canada to intervene in Vancouver’s skyrocketing real estate market.

Raymond Wong from Burnaby started the petition, sponsored by NDP MLA Kennedy Stewart, in April and has since garnered over 4,000 signatures online. Wong calls on the federal government to collect data on foreign investment in Canada’s real estate market, and investigate suspicious financial transactions flagged by FINTRAC, among other suggestions.

He says families and young people are being driven away from the city due to the high cost of housing, seniors are being “taxed out” of their properties due to rising property taxes, and even the rental market is becoming too far out of reach for many.

READ MORE: Housing affordability crunch keeping millennials at home longer

With the benchmark price of a detached home in Vancouver rising over 30 per cent since April 2015, Wong suggests the government take a number of steps:

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  • Collect data on offshore investment on Canada’s real estate market and the extent of which housing vacancies, flipping and speculation are driving up homes prices
  • Investigate financial transactions flagged as suspicious by the Financial Transactions and Report Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and determine if any of them are linked to real estate purchases
  • If appropriate, require potential buyers to register with the government in order to buy a home and consider restricting foreign ownership to those who reside in the city for a certain period of time
  • Demand real estate council and lawyers to disclose information of buyers and sources of incomes
  • Study the restrictions place on off-shore investment by Australia, USA, Hong Kong, England, Singapore and New Zealand

As of publication time, the petition had 3,721 signatures from B.C., 203 from Ontario, 96 from Alberta, and 29 from outside Canada. Signatures will close on August 6, after which the petition will be presented to the House of Commons and await the tabling of a government response.