BETTERS: Why didn’t the candidates raise the issue of housing demand in Burnaby South?
As followers of the Burnaby-South byelection no doubt noticed, two of the hottest issues in the race were immigration and the housing crisis. Some would have also noticed, however, that each of the candidates utterly failed in actually tying the two together; as if there was no connection between home-price inflation and the housing demand from newcomers. Local environmentalists, economists, and academics have been making the link for years; why couldn’t the candidates?
Over the last 30 years, the population of Metro Vancouver (which includes Burnaby) has doubled, with the lion’s share of newcomers coming from outside the country. According to study, just in a five-year period between 2006 and 2011, these newcomers bought over 100,000 homes in the area. As former Simon Fraser University economics professor and former MP Herbert Grubel has noted, today the region’s receiving over 250 immigrant families every week. And, as he says, with these kinds of numbers, supply-side solutions simply do not have a chance in helping the crisis. The real problem is demand.