Housing agency will gather facts on housing stock, also clarify what can be done

It’s welcome news that Vancouver council has ensured the city’s new housing agency try to fill in the information gaps about the housing crisis, says Vancouver Sun columnist Doug Todd, who has rung alarm bells about vacant homes and the impact of offshore investment.

What’s equally important, in my opinion, is clarifying what can be done and which level of government can do it.

In Canada, as far as I can tell, only the federal and provincial governments have the ability to regulate offshore ownership of land, and only a few — like Saskatchewan, where local control of farm land is a priority — have done so.

If foreign investment is the problem many believe it is, what can be done about it? Is the city the right level of government?

Even more critical, in my view, is research on the state of affordable housing stock, including co-ops, non-profits and low-cost rental housing in older neighbourhoods. Protecting that stock — or ensuring it is renewed and expanded — may prove more important in coming years than trying to manage the impact of investment patterns in the global economy.