Tri-Cities federal NDP, Liberal candidates lay out their plans to improve housing affordability

·4 min read
Bonita Zarrillo, left, is a three-term Coquitlam city councillor and the NDP candidate for the Port Moody-Coquitlam riding. Will Davis, right, is the Liberal candidate and a former journalist. Incumbent Nelly Shin, with the Conservative Party, did not partake in an interview. (bonitazarrillo.ca/willdavis.liberal.ca - image credit)
Bonita Zarrillo, left, is a three-term Coquitlam city councillor and the NDP candidate for the Port Moody-Coquitlam riding. Will Davis, right, is the Liberal candidate and a former journalist. Incumbent Nelly Shin, with the Conservative Party, did not partake in an interview. (bonitazarrillo.ca/willdavis.liberal.ca - image credit)

The federal election is here and that means political parties are once again pitching plans to make home ownership more affordable in Canada, where home prices are rising faster than any other G7 nation.

One area of Metro Vancouver where houses were relatively affordable a few years ago is the Tri-Cities riding of Port Moody–Coquitlam where, for example, the benchmark price for a single-family home was $913,000 in 2014 and is now hovering around $1.8 million.

CBC's The Early Edition host Stephen Quinn spoke to the riding's NDP and Liberal candidates about their plans to put more affordable roofs over the heads of their constituents.

Conservative Party candidate Nelly Shin declined the interview so Brad Vis, candidate for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, spoke for the Tories.

Helping new homeowners

NDP candidate Bonita Zarrillo said her party plans to double the first-time home buyers credit and also turn it into a rebate so that buyers get the money when they move in, rather than when they do their taxes.

"Many of our first-time homebuyers don't have the cash to make that down payment. The credit doesn't help them," said Zarrillo.

The NDP is also promising to reintroduce 30-year terms to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation insured mortgages on an entry-level home for first-time buyers.

A 30-year amortization can cut payment by about 10 per cent, but it will also costs buyers about 20 per cent more in interest over the life of the mortgage.

Zarillo says the immediate benefits are worth it for some.

"What we need is to get affordable living for people now.... It lowers people's payments right now," she said.

Liberal candidate Will Davis says his party also plans to double the credit, create a tax-free and interest-free loan for first-time homeowners and a rent-to-own program.

"We want to unlock home ownership for first-time owners," said Davis.

Splitting town for cheaper ground

For Port Moody resident Lori Holdenried, who bought a single-family home in the area 12 years ago, first-time home ownership for her now college-aged children is a major concern.

Holdenried said she is blessed to own a home in the area, but that seems out of reach for her kids.

She and her husband are considering moving to another province where the money they could make selling their house would be enough to pay for a replacement with cash left over to help the next Holdenried generation.

"We see them struggling to try and be independent to make a life here and they can't and we don't see how that is going to be possible if things stay as they are," she said.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

No more foreign money

Vis said he is a millennial himself and has felt the fear of trying to afford a home first-hand.

He said his party plans to make housing more affordable to British Columbians by banning foreign ownership.

"Period, stop. We're going to ban it for two years, and then we're going to assess the impact and make a decision after that," he said.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Davis also said the Liberals plan to stop foreign home ownership.

According to Matthew Lee, a real estate advisor from Macdonald Realty, who has been working in the Tri-Cities area for over 17 years, foreign ownership is not the primary problem pushing prices up right now.

He said in the last 24 months, residential real estate prices have surged to record highs in the Lower Mainland and it is all due to local buyers

"There is no foreign capital in the market right now," said Lee.

Build, Build Build

Vis said the Conservatives promise to help developers build more homes by extending their ability to defer capital gains tax when they're selling a rental property and reinvest that money in rental housing.

"We need to incentivize developers to build and retain purpose-built rental, and that's what's in our plan," he said.

Davis said a Liberal win would mean 1.4 million rebuilds or new homes across Canada in the next four years. Zarrillo says the NDP are committed to building 500,000 affordable homes.

"There's a lot of luxury condos available. There's not a lot of affordable housing out there," said Zarrillo.

To learn more about the party's platforms and the price tags of these promises, read the complete NDP, Liberal and Conservative Party platforms.

Voting day is Sept. 20.

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