Port Moody council wants to give local residents first crack at buying homes in new condo and townhome developments.
At Tuesday’s meeting, councillors directed staff to study the legal and financial ramifications of implementing a “residents-first” policy that would give people who live in Metro Vancouver first crack during pre-sales for new multi-family dwellings being built in Port Moody.
Coun. Barbara Junker, who proposed one of two motions put forth by three councillors about the issue, said a residents-first policy would protect downsizers and young people who want to remain in Port Moody from out-of-town speculators who snap up presale units without ever intending to live in them before selling them at a profit.
She said the idea was sparked by a developer’s recent initiative to offer units in a townhouse project it’s building in the city first to Moody residents.
“It is our obligation and duty to do what we can for our residents, not only current homeowners but for our young families seeking to remain in our city to raise their families,” Junker said in her report to council.
A similar policy is being studied in Vancouver while West Vancouver has implemented agreements with developers there to market projects exclusively to people who live, work or own businesses in the city for the first 30 days, then to the rest of Metro Vancouver for the next 60 days.
But councillors Rob Vagramov and Hunter Madsen said those initiatives don’t go far enough.
Their joint motion for a locals-first housing access policy proposed a 60-day window for current and former Port Moody residents who had resided in the city for at least a year, then to current residents of Metro Vancouver for the last 30 days of the window, then the rest of Canada for the final 15 days. They also pitched similar exclusivity windows for new rental projects but that was rebuffed by council.
Coun. Diana Dilworth said implementing narrow parameters for a locals-first policy on pre-sales amounts to discrimination.
“The hairs on the back of my neck stand up,” she said. “We’re clearly discriminating against entire groups of people.”
Coun. Zoe Royer said limiting a locals-first policy to residents of Port Moody rather than all of Metro Vancouver could end up scaring developers away from the city.
“We have to be careful about being Port Moody first,” she said. “Imagine the presale if you have a nine-month window to get your construction financing, you may not get it, which renders the project not viable.”
She said broadening the definition of locals to include all of Metro Vancouver would fulfill the policy’s intent to dissuade out-of-country buyers from snapping up new homes as an investment.
Mayor Mike Clay agreed, suggesting limiting presales to residents of PoMo first might end up inflating the market for used houses in the city more than the market for new ones.