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Letters  

Property owners punished

What's with the fuss over owning homes that people don't live in full-time?

Canadians have long aspired to having a summer/vacation home, or keeping the grandparents' house for the grandkids. Nothing new there. Even less remarkable are rental properties owned by somebody as a second or third property. Big deal. Real estate has always been a wise investment.

It's the typical whine making somebody who has worked long and hard, sacrificing so they or their children can get ahead, out to be a villain (and) somehow depriving the rest of something they feel entitled to. Boohoo!

Housing prices are complicated, but here is a partial list of contributing factors:

Taxes—Transfer taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, carbon tax and so-called environmental taxes have all inflated the cost of everything and housing even more because taxes contribute to every component from lumber to paint and labour. Transfer and speculation taxes are worse because they affect all housing, not just new housing. With, each sale the price rises to recover the taxes paid. The new higher sale price is reflected in the tax assessment price. And so the never-ending, upwards price spiral continues. The government ensures ever-increasing revenues from ever-increasing real estate prices.

In Alberta, where there is no transfer tax, and where property taxes are based on the property alone regardless of who owns it, housing prices actually rise and fall, making speculation riskier.

Building codes—Originally created to ensure safe design and construction practices, the B.C. government and regional districts turned building codes into an environmental mantra, requiring expensive materials and design that have nothing to do with safety. One such ridiculous rule is that all material must be new. I can't incorporate a 100-year-old, hand-crafted door into my new home, even though it would take longer to burn through than your standard interior door. What happened to reduce, reuse, recycle?

The B.C. Energy Step Codes are punitive for those outside of large urban centres because they require special materials and installation which aren't readily available in smaller communities. What's the point of maybe saving a few energy cents down the road if you can't afford to build in the first place?

Under-employment—The NDP has made people feel like just having a job—any job—should entitle them to home-ownership. This has never been the case in Canada. If you work a part-time job, expect to have trouble finding housing. Most of us older homeowners had room mates, worked multiple jobs or lived in less than appealing rentals so we could save enough for a downpayment. Eating out was a luxury and we don't have expensive tattoos. Sacrifice got us our downpayment.

Location—Just because I want to live some place doesn't mean I'm entitled to live there. There are lots of amazing places to live in Canada that are actually cheap. We can't all live in “paradise.” Move someplace less expensive. Work at a job there that pays more than your expenses, even if it's not glamorous.

The bottom line is, if you can't afford housing then you need to change something. Get a different, or second, job. Upgrade your education. Cut back on spending. Move to someplace cheaper. Save, save, save. Cut up your credit card. Use a tax-free savings account and the coming home savings plan to your advantage. Interest rates are going up. Every dollar saved will be worth more.

Get your priorities straight. If you really want to own a home, make that your priority over recreation, fashion, status and popularity.

Last, but not least, pressure the government to reduce or eliminate its punitive taxes and regulations that guarantee rising housing costs.

V Xaronski , Kootenay Lake



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