The coming months of 2011 will provide an interesting ground for special interests pandering to politicians fighting for their futures. My recent favourite is Terry David Mulligan running booze across the Alberta line in an attempt to change the province’s arcane prohibition liquor transport ban. In terms of real estate, there are a few issues that have garnered attention of late, mostly around Vancouver’s chronic affordability issues, so much so even the City’s elite have started to take notice.
In election years politicians on both sides of a debate love a wedge issue. On this front real estate seems prime for garnering some of their attention. Christy Clark won her seat in Point Grey by not too large a margin, to the point where she is considering running elsewhere. Point Grey is close to ground zero when it comes to the international housing bubble, fueled by debt, speculators, and foreign capital investment. High prices are nice, even for locals, but this has limits. We have heard anecdotes of resident surgeons leaving Vancouver, not for higher-paying jobs, but for more affordable real estate. Parents in well-heeled neighbourhoods are starting to realize their children are unable to afford to live close to them. Then there are people who have been unwilling to take large debt loads and have chosen to rent, or simply move away from the city into the suburbs or to another metropolitan area altogether. Having an exodus of well-educated Vancouverites is not something in the long-term interests of a city that has delusions of being the next New York. The long-term health of the City I would hope to be in everyone’s interest.
So the questions for readers are:
- Are recent house price movements in Vancouver enough to be a political issue?
- What politicians would you specifically contact?
- What groups of people would like to see governments do something about high prices?
- What can provincial and civic politicians even do about it?
It’s worth thinking about what would be required for politicians to act to attempt to curb high prices in Vancouver, in other words, how should the problem of high prices be framed to make it a potential vote-winner and loser. Writing a rant to your MLA may be one strategy, but in an election year, a more concentrated, reasoned, and strategic effort may elicit better results. What do you think?