Peter Ladner over at the Vancouver Courier asks the question ‘why reward Vancouver seniors for staying in big empty houses‘?
The oldest of us will be 80 in 10 years, well past the time we needed all those bedrooms for our children, even the ones who stick around into their 30s. And we have lots of those bedrooms. Canadians have the most living space per person of any country in the world (2.5 rooms per person), according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development stats. I confess: I have two empty bedrooms in my home, even after converting the basement into a suite.
A decade ago, Urban Futures estimated that around 30 per cent of homes in Metro Vancouver had at least one unoccupied bedroom. That would be 220,000 empty bedrooms then, and many more in coming years as the boomer tsunami arrives. It would be interesting to calculate how many years we could go without building any new homes simply by filling up the ones we already have.
The opposing viewpoint says that asking people to pay their property tax is the same as kicking old people out of their homes, some calling Ladner ‘a disgusting human being’. But as George points out is it really unfair to ask people who’ve benefitted from decades of rising property values to pay their share of the tax bill?
…Whenever young people cry about high housing prices in Vancouver, we’re told that’s the free market, suck it up, supply and demand, blah blah blah. It’s actually not a free market, it’s a highly distorted market, but that’s besides the point. If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander. If young people in Vancouver are just supposed to accept being priced out due to the free market, then elderly people should have to accept the same thing. I am not saying I want to see elderly people displaced out of Vancouver. But Peter Ladner is right, it’s just not fair that elderly people sitting on massively overvalued homes get what amounts to a tax subsidy from the young, the very people priced out of the city.
What do you think? Are you against young families or the elderly?