Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

“British Columbians flee rising housing costs”

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“Politicians are not taking account of the affordability challenge in their policy making, continuing whenever the mood strikes to raise government fees and taxes.”

Read more: Columnist Babara Yaffe of the Vancouver Sun behind a paywall

Fees, yes – taxes? Really??

The whole thing stinks from sloppy writing, I think deliberately sloppy, which is worse. For instance the headline alone misleads since she is talking about Vancouver house prices – and there is data within the article to support that concern. But also the useful information that you can buy two houses in Kitimat as investments and still rent here. Kitimat is in BC too you know.

By the way, there are real issues up there too. Both Hawkair and Air Canada have increased flights to Terrace due to the numbers of people commuting between there and Vancouver. Not on a daily basis, of course, but finding somewhere to rent up there when that is where work takes you is really difficult.

“Politicians” is nice and wide reaching too. After all as a columnist for the Sun you would not want to go after Christy Clark too obviously. This way she can take aim slyly at the Mayors who are doing all they can to hold the line on property taxes. Those are the only taxes they are responsible for, and the increases we have seen in them have been due mostly to downloading from the province. The whole battle with the Province over transit funding is due to the province’s determination that property taxes must be raised to pay for any expansion: not taxes the province might be held accountable for. Which is why the idea of a referendum is so appealing. That way she (Christy Clark) can still talk about the “lowest income tax in Canada” since that does not have to include the MSP. Which no other province levies, but here applies equally to seniors on fixed incomes as much as people with well paid employment. And whose employer probably picks up the tab anyway.

“Whenever the mood strikes” is as close to lying as you can get. The idea that politicians in general are indifferent to public opinion and vote for tax increases on a whim is simply unsupportable, though it is a very popular line that right wing commentators like to adopt.

Let us be clear. There is a very good argument for increasing taxes, but not just any tax and not just for any project. Ever since Thatcher and Regan started swinging their axes, progressive income tax on the wealthy has fallen. That was supposed to produce increased revenues, since it was going to stimulate the economy. It never did. The math for austerity was flawed – but instinctively the right wing still clings to it. Slash social programs, cut spending that goes to the poor, the sick, the needy. But make sure our friends are taken care of. The optics of wheelchair fees at the same time as increasing the salary of political advisers could not be worse, but there’s a long time before the next election. And even when the top tax rates fell, the rush to hide income offshore increased.

Barbara Yaffe makes a very unconvincing champion for those facing affordability challenges. I am sorry that I broke my own rule about pointing to a source behind a paywall. But really, if the decline of PNG and its like is going to continue and there is less money to pay for right wing propagandists like her, then two cheers for that.

And, in all decency, I should point out that this bit is worth reading

Those in the know say the market lately is moderating, with slower sales, but prices are barely budging.

The cost of housing could be one reason why many are leaving — more Canadians have been leaving than moving to B.C. since 2011.

On a net basis, reports BC Stats, the province lost 2,234 residents in the last three months of 2012 alone.

Still, politicians are looking the other way, focusing interest and efforts on the desperately needy and homeless.

The province so far has refused to reduce the Property Transfer Tax, or forgive PST on realty fees.

That Conservative MPs and Liberal MLAs in B.C. failed utterly to foresee taxpayer ire over the imposition of a costlier HST speaks to their lack of attention to the affordability crisis.

You can read that here for free since it is “fair comment” . My experience of a price drop in Richmond is, I am told, not unique. Apparently a lot of people are getting very nervous about living on a mud flat in the middle of the Fraser and are moving to higher ground – like Metrotown. Something to do with extreme weather events, and sea level rise apparently.

UPDATE From a different source a different story but the same data. BC is losing people to other provinces but more than making that up by international immigration. And the reason people have been leaving, steadily, for some time is the need to find work.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 18, 2013 at 11:09 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Yaffe is a sloppy and sometimes disingenuous writer. it’s too bad most who read her will never realize that.

    marcerickson

    June 18, 2013 at 11:46 pm

  2. Yaffe often writes like she’s a tabloid journalist. Her summation of the NDP’s entire campaign platform last election got down to “solar panels and bean sprouts” and an anti-everything-that-is-remotely-related-to business attitude.

    I wrote a one-line letter to the Sun saying, if essence, If a long-time columnist’s perception of a major political party’s platform gets down to “solar panels and bean sprouts” then there is no hope for the once-relevant Vancouver Sun. It never got published, of course, but Yaffee was emailed a copy along with a page of follow up comments.

    I would’ve done the same if she wrote similarly about the Green Party.

    MB

    June 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm


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