Our View: B.C. budget biggest shakeup in housing for years

The broad scope of the budget’s measures are likely to have an effect.

If the new provincial B.C. budget announced Tuesday does nothing else, it will try to repair the out-of-whack B.C. housing market.

The lengthy list of measures the NDP and their Green partners announced to repair housing affordability appear to take a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach.

Increasing and expanding the foreign buyers tax might do something to cool the markets. So might the new speculation tax or the boost to the property transfer tax on $3 million-plus homes.

Then there’s the multiple new regulations or efforts aimed at cracking down on money launderers and fraudsters, who have made the real estate landscape their playground.

Even before that extra money from new taxes and fees comes in, the province will be spending on building new rentals, co-ops, and increasing rental assistance programs. They’re planning to build or support new housing for the homeless.

Some of these efforts won’t pan out.

But frankly, it’s impressive to see the broad scope of the efforts. If even half of them have a measureable impact, it will change the housing landscape in this province.

The BC Liberals had a tendency to attack each housing problem separately. They made some efforts to improve rental affordability, to tackle speculation, and to build for the homeless.

But they never launched a campaign like this. And yet housing is just one piece of a budget that also tackles child care, MSP premiums, prescription drugs, and skills training.

It’s a big budget, the biggest B.C. has seen in years.

– M.C.

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