LETTER: Responsiblity to control real estate

The pretense that we live in a “free market economy” would have us ignore tax relief or support or subsidies ...

The pretense that we live in a “free market economy” would have us ignore tax relief or support or subsidies to banks, sports teams, arenas, the oil sands, and vehicle, movie and pharmaceutical companies.

Senior levels of government cannot ignore their very real responsibilities by using the excuse of a “free market economy.” Their responsibilities include controlling the Ponzi scheme that real estate has now become, as well as providing affordable rental options.

Addressing the former, Martyn Brown offers several suggestions in his recent opinion piece in the Georgia Straight. Those who suggest that “seniors” will lose value in their homes if the stratospheric climb does not continue might want to review Australia’s experience facing the problem head on did not cause real estate to tank in that country. Jurisdictions as varied as China, Florida, and Prince Edward Island have benefited from controls.

B.C., however, appears unable to manage without income from the inflated property transfer tax, so it’s “business as usual,” especially if our leaders ignore an Insights West poll in which 83 percent of respondents support implementation of an “absentee tax.”

And what about the current dearth of affordable rental accommodations? In reaction to rental availability having peaked in the mid-1960s, B.C. took action in the 1970s and our province benefited from doing so. Now, instead of building required units, B.C. Housing is instead selling off properties. If new owners are forced to add financing costs to rents, the situation can only become worse.

And it’s pretty dismal right now.

Regina Dalton