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Jesse Kline: Blame the government — not foreigners — for the high cost of real estate in Vancouver

It’s consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world, and there’s little doubt it’s one of the most beautiful in Canada, but Vancouver has also become one of the most unaffordable places to live.

Between 2001 and 2014, average house prices in Vancouver increased by 211 per cent. Even in the suburbs, real estate values grew by 63 per cent over the same period. As a result, B.C. real estate was found to be the least-affordable in Canada in a new report from RBC Economics, and Vancouver was listed as the second-least-affordable city on Earth in the 2014 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.

Unfortunately, some residents are trying to pin the sharp increase in prices on foreigners, in an effort to launch a xenophobic campaign to keep foreign capital out of the housing market — capital that plays an important role in funding new developments and increasing the number of rental properties.

An online petition that has garnered over 25,000 signatures calls on local politicians to “introduce laws to curb foreign investment in residential real estate.” And a recent poll found that 64 per cent of residents think high prices are caused by “foreigners investing in this real estate market,” and that 70 per cent of respondents think the government needs to get more involved in the housing market.

They’re wrong. The best way to make housing more affordable in Metro Vancouver is for governments to get out of the way and allow developers to build more homes.

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