"It's getting harder."
Bonita Zarrillo says during her time as a councillor for the city of Coquitlam, she's observed several challenges when it comes to buying a house or getting into the market.
"Certainly, I've learned over the years how to fight for people and with the current housing crisis, we've found that more and more families are having to move farther and farther away from our community to make ends meet," the Port Moody-Coquitlam NDP candidate said this morning (Aug. 31) during a campaign appearance with the party's leader, Jagmeet Singh..
"With the Justin Trudeau housing crisis, they have not been able to stay in the communities where they were raised, where they were born and where the rest of their parents and much of their family lives."
Zarrillo stood alongside Singh, who was making his second visit to the Tri-Cities since the writ was dropped on Aug. 15. It's an area where the orange party hopes to attract voters who are frustrated with housing prices that have skyrocketed out of reach of many middle-class families. In the 2019 federal election, Zarrillo lost to Progressive Conservative candidate Nelly Shin by only 153 votes.
Singh said an NDP government would tackle big-money house flippers by raising the taxable amount of capital gains profits from 50 to 75%.
A capital-gains tax is applied on the sale of an investment asset, like a stock share or real estate property, but does not apply to a primary residence and Singh said he has no plans to change that.
"One of the big problems we're seeing is very wealthy investors are using the housing market like a stock market," explained Singh, speaking from Pasta Polo — a Coquitlam Italian family eatery located on 2754 Barnet Hwy.
"We want to get big money out of housing. So if someone here in Port Moody-Coquitlam is looking to buy their home, they shouldn't have to compete with people with deep pockets [...] they shouldn't have to put up with that.
"The average home has gone up nationally over $300,000. Here in Port Moody-Coquitlam, it's over the average. It's higher than that. We can fix this."
According to the latest stats from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), sales in the Tri-Cities decreased by 13.7% between June and July 2021 after 484 homes were purchased among 526 total listings of apartments, and detached and attached homes.
However, Port Moody-Belcarra attached homes were the only sales that saw any kind of increase last month: 51.6% from June after 47 listings were sold.
The NDP has promised, if it takes power on Sept. 20, it'll commit to building 500,000 affordable homes in 10 years.
Singh believes the NDP's initiative to tie federal transit funding to municipal housing strategies, could help "build, renovate and preserve 1.7 million homes" in four years.
"We want young people thinking that they can never own a home ever in their lifetimes to not have that despair and to have hope instead," Singh said. "We want to incentivise Canadians here in our country being able to own a home."
Singh added the capital gain tax increase would not apply to those who own a cottage or farm.
Last week, the Liberals proposed an anti-flipping tax on residential properties, requiring that such homes be held for at least 12 months.
In an interview with the Tri-City News, Conservative leader Erin O'Toole promised to create one million homes by repurposing some federal buildings, banning foreign investors living outside the country from buying property for at least two years and easing up the mortgage stress test.
“We can’t price our young people out,” said O’Toole.
When asked about the continued closure for Canadians at the U.S. border, Singh said the country needs to continue to follow the experts in public health.
This comes after Americans were advised not to travel to Canada amid the rise in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant and more than three weeks after they were allowed to cross north of the border.
Canadians are still restricted from heading south and Singh acknowledged this situation can be tough on border towns that rely on both sides for economic recovery.
He believes a federal government should provide "clear transparency on when we're going to open and how it's going to work out so that Canadians can plan their lives."
- with files from Diane Strandberg, Tri-City News, and The Canadian Press