Harper tells Vancouver he would collect data on foreign buyers

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is currently campaigning in the Lower Mainland

Plus, B.C. builds more houses and an “unfair” energy review

We’ll look into it
A message for Vancouverites (and others, but mostly Vancouverites): if re-elected, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government will “commit to collecting comprehensive data on foreign buyer activity in Canada’s housing market.” The promise was made Wednesday morning from North Vancouver, where Harper is currently campaigning. If indeed foreign investment is driving up real estate prices in a significant way, government should do something, Harper said. As for what that might be remains to be seen. And as for using data to determine policy, it should be noted that many economists have criticized Harper’s government in the past for scrapping the long-form census, an invaluable tool for doing just that. Harper also announced that his government would increase the amount of RRSP money first-time homebuyers can withdraw tax-free from $25,000 to $35,000

Building up
Speaking of real estate, housing starts are up in B.C.—despite that not being the case elsewhere in Canada. According to new numbers from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation released Tuesday, the number of new houses being built was up 4.7 per cent in B.C. in July compared to June. It was up even more, 7.9 per cent, in Vancouver. Compare that to Calgary, where housing starts were down 54 per cent.
Enough is enough
On Wednesday, 35 participants in the National Energy Board review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion—which, if approved, would increase the amount of crude moved between Edmonton and Vancouver and the number of tankers in the Burrard Inlet from five to 34—said they will no longer participate in the process, calling it flawed and unfair. “We can’t abide by the system any more. It’s too flawed,” Wilderness Committee climate campaigner Eoin Madden told the Canadian Press. In July, BCBusiness ran a feature on the federal government promoting more self-regulated environmental assessments—and what this has meant for their accuracy.