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Tory leadership hopeful Pierre Poilievre entreats Vancouver voters with housing promises

Click to play video: 'Federal politicians battle over housing affordability in B.C.' Federal politicians battle over housing affordability in B.C.
Housing affordability in the Lower Mainland is a hot topic for more than just the people who live here. It's the centre of an increasingly intense battle in federal politics. Richard Zussman has more. – Apr 11, 2022

Pierre Poilievre is hoping the cost of a $4.8-million house will be enough to convince the voting public to become members of the Conservative Party of Canada.

The Tory leadership hopeful, widely considered a front runner, is promising to “reduce red tape” and push municipalities to approve housing more quickly if he is chosen to lead the Tories to victory in the next federal election.

In a video shared on Twitter on Monday, Poilievre used the nearly $5-million home in Vancouver to highlight several challenges in the city’s housing market. He said the lot could be split into six homes, but would cost a consumer $1 million each to buy due to building and land costs.

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“Who can afford payments on a $950,000-mortgage? Forget property taxes and utilities,” Poilievre asked in the video. “Why is it Vancouver has the third-most unaffordable housing market on Planet Earth?”

The leadership candidate, veteran MP for the Ottawa-area riding of Carleton, proceeded to answer his own question. He blamed Ottawa for “printing over $400 billion in new cash,” and government “gate-keepers” who “protect the wealthy” with laws and bylaws that result in exorbitant costs for the average consumer.

Citing a study by the C.D. Howe Institute, Poilievre said the “governmental cost” for every unit of housing in Vancouver is $644,000, which includes permit, zoning and consultant fees the public must pay.

The C.D. Howe Institute does not characterize the $644,000 as a governmental cost, but rather states Vancouver has the highest construction costs in Canada, “resulting in an extra cost of $644,000 for the average new house.”

Read more: Patrick Brown is juggling mayoral duties with Conservative leadership bid

In the video, Poilievre suggested one solutions to the home ownership affordability crisis is requiring municipalities to speed up approvals and reduce costs.

“Remove the gate-keepers. Stop blocking the poor, the working class and immigrants from the dream of owning a home in this country,” he said. “Shouldn’t our working class be better off now than it was 40 years ago?”

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Click to play video: 'Focus BC: Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre, forcing density along transit routes' Focus BC: Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre, forcing density along transit routes
Focus BC: Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre, forcing density along transit routes – Apr 8, 2022

As Poilievre’s video raked up more than 200,000 views, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured British Columbia to promote green investments in last week’s federal budget.

Asked about housing affordability at an announcement in Victoria, Trudeau responded, “Anyone suggesting an easy political fix is pushing something that isn’t true.”

His government has introduced a suite of changes aimed at improving the odds for prospective home owns, including a influx in cash to speed up building, a two-year ban on foreign ownership, and tax free savings accounts of up to $40,000 for first-time buyers.

“One of the challenges has been population growth has not been met by an increase in housing supply,” Trudeau said.

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Labour, materials shortages could impact Canada’s housing goal – Apr 11, 2022

Read more: Federal housing money not expected to make big difference in overheated B.C. market

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UBC Sauder School of Business professor Tom Davidoff says the federal government should target the zoning system and push for zoning changes to be approved more quickly.

Davidoff applauded both the Liberals and Conservatives, however, for focusing on housing approvals.

“It would be rare 20 to 30 years ago you would hear the federal government pushing municipalities around on approvals. I think it is encouraging,” he told Global News.

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