Our housing crisis means different things to different people.
In Canada, housing is a privilege. Not a human right.
The majority of households in Victoria are not homeowners. Almost half pay more than a third of their monthly income on rent. Here, the living wage is $20.50, up 8.2 per cent since 2014; but, in those four years, maximum allowable rents have increased by 15.3 per cent.
Renters, unlike residential property owners, receive no annual homeowner grant. No tax deferral (if over 55, or living with children). No renovation rebates. No City of Victoria ‘rainwater rewards.’ Little protection exists for renters facing large-scale eviction from older, affordable rental units due to demolition, renovation, repair, or redevelopment.
Many modest-income, senior tenants, live alone on the brink of homelessness; here, in a city of wealth and waterfront enclaves such as Shoal Point.
Residential property has become a lucrative capital investment; or, retirement nest-egg; not only for domestic and overseas individuals, but for corporate interests seeking safe haven. Rather than being satisfied with laws that protect property – and, a tax favouring homeowners over renters, some demand increased privileges.
Canada can’t put a roof over everyone’s head. Those owning more than one home need not expect extra benefits. Imposing a surtax on properties whose value exceeds $3 million, and whose owners reside here part-time, would not appear to be an unbearable burden. This is not a betrayal of trust. It’s the cost of enjoying property ownership, when others struggle to pay the rent; or, remain unhoused.