by Harvey Oberfeld
June 26, 2023
Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) in a Few Good Men (1992): “I WANT THE TRUTH!”
Col. Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson): “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”
No … these are not lines from the House of Commons or the BC Legislature on any City Council across BC … but they might as well be!
The truth is our politicians … at all levels … are not being honest with our citizens about ever-rising housing costs, increasing unaffordability and how the impact of rising immigration numbers are making it all worse.
It’s about time they should be challenged on it.
You’ve seen them: the Prime Minister, Premiers, Cabinet Ministers, Mayors, elected MPs, MLAs, Council Members and candidates from every party for public office … ALL reassuring us they know how difficult it is for so many now to get a down payment to buy a home or condo, afford a mortgage or even pay rent!
They all promise to improve things: provide more housing, tackle affordability, yada, yada, yada.
BUT their actions betray their rhetoric … at every level of government.
Starting with federal immigration policies:
In 2022, on top of normal population growth, Canada welcomed a record number of new immigrants: 431,645; up from 401,000 in 2021.
Projections call for another 465,000 immigrants being allowed into Canada this year, 485,000 in 2024, and 500,000 in 2025.
“If current immigration levels stay in place, Canada’s population could hit the 50-million mark by 2043. That’s just 20 years from now. For comparison, it took 26 years to go from 30 to 40 million,” Statistics Canada says.
Read all about it here: https://www.immigration.ca/canadas-population-hits-40-million-fueled-by-immigration/.
I get it: we need immigrants … but let’s keep it real: most of them settle in urban areas (especially Toronto and Vancouver) and this huge growth … current and projected … can’t help but further negatively impact our current housing crisis!
And yet, no one … neither our elected “representatives” nor our complacent, co-opted media … dare to question or confront the relationship between massive increases in immigration and the losing struggle our citizens are having with housing.
Politicians are lying to you, plain and simple, if they say to the even larger numbers still to come will not further negatively impact housing costs, rental stocks and rental prices … displacing even more low/moderate income Canadians.
Supply and demand … plain and simple.
The truth is not even the most ambitious housing plans, or those photo ops of shovels in the ground we see dutifully broadcast on tv across the country will be enough to accommodate our own singles’, seniors’ and young families’ needs, let alone provide for those for whom we’ve laid down the Welcome mat.
Add to that the huge rise we’re all facing these days in interest rates, construction costs, permit fees, carbon taxes, gas prices, transit costs, ever-climbing charges for Hydro, building services, insurance etc. … and the constantly increasing tax grab by municipalities (sometimes well beyond inflation) and it’s easy to see how the situation is getting worse, not better.
Yet, there they are … politicians regularly standing before the microphones telling us they understand the pain, they feel our stresses and assure us they’re developing solutions … before returning to their offices and then imposing even more decisions/cost increases/tax hikes that make things even worse!
As has happened in many municipalities:
Take a look at how outrageously Vancouver City residential taxes have increased: from 2017 to 2019, the increase averaged 4% and 5%; in 2020, they jumped 7%; in 2021, another 5%; then 2022, up another 6.35%; and, this year, a whopping 10.7%.
Anyone recall seeing Mayor Ken Sim or any Council candidates tell us they’d be doing that in the last municipal election campaign???
And they’re not done yet … City bureaucrats are already projecting they’ll need another 9% EVERY year for the next five years! Read this: https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/property-tax-hike-vancouver-balance-budget.
Remember, each increase is ON TOP OF the higher base rates created by the previous years’ boosts … so the cumulative impact on both low and middle class home owners and renters are becoming quite painful.
The idea of governments just living “within their means” has disappeared: instead. giving way to a new philosophy … that major urban cores and their immediate surroundings will largely become the havens of rich local professionals and wealthy immigrant investors, with small enclaves of social housing/service centers.
While the vast majority of working and middle class earners and retirees will literally be sent packing … out to the periphery or beyond.
Of course, the politicians won’t tell you that: they’re just slowly doing it!
And no one in the media has added it all up … yet. Or dared to confront them on it.
Nor is this only a burgeoning problem in Vancouver.
Just last week, the Canadian Housing Rental Index showed more than 100,000 British Columbian “households” are facing the prospect of homelessness. Read the details: https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/exclusive-bc-rental-crisis-puts-100000-households-at-risk-homeless.
And then, there’s the province:
The BC NDP government in May actually acknowledged there’s a huge problem, demanding municipalities expedite housing construction … and it named several: (https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0059-000851).
But the province knows they can’t force developers to build low-cost, middle class or seniors’ housing when land prices, construction costs, planning/permit/inspection fees and interest rates make it unprofitable to do so … and they also can’t force developers to sell/rent at below costs/profit margins the large numbers of units needed just to catch up current shortfalls … let alone accommodate the major requirements headed our way.
And let’s keep it real: all these actions/increases by governments themselves are negatively affecting much more than housing.
How about Health Care needs … like Family doctors? Hospitals? Emergency care? Surgeries?
Where will all the additional necessary schools/universities/social services come from to accommodate those immigration numbers already announced, on top of the existing shortfalls already plaguing so many families/singles/seniors already here?
The truth is for BC (and Canada) working and middle class young families, singles and seniors … when it comes to housing … things are going to get a lot worse, before they get better, if at all.
Why can’t the politicians just tell us the TRUTH????
Because they lack the backbone? Because it’s easier to lie?
Or maybe because they really believe We Can’t Handle the TRUTH!