ArticleType: Press Release
August 15, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Richmond Businesses Negatively Impacted by Housing Unaffordability, calling for All Levels of Government to Collaborate
RICHMOND – A survey conducted recently by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, of its members, shows that housing unaffordability in the region is having a significant impact on local businesses.
Over 65% of respondents reported that more than half of their workforce is commuting from outside of Richmond, with a full third of respondents reporting that over 75% of their employees live outside of Richmond, which has one of the highest housing prices in Metro Vancouver (at an average of $1.7 million for a detached home). When asked whether the affordability of housing has affected their business’ ability to recruit talent, of respondents who track such data, 62% reported that it had created a moderate or significant impact. 60% of members reported that housing unaffordability has moderately or significantly affected their employee retention.
“Historically a survey to our members of on this topic was uncommon, our Board of Directors and staff were hearing about the hot housing market in almost every conversation. We knew we had to take the temperature of business,” says Rob Akimow, Chair of the Richmond Chamber. “Our results show overwhelming that business leaders want to see concrete action on this issue.”
Survey respondents were asked to consider which level of government they believe should lead the residential housing unaffordability issue. The resounding result was that businesses wish to see all levels of government collaborate to find solutions.
Members were given the opportunity to indicate which action they would prefer to see on the issue. While this survey was launched prior to the provincial government’s decision to impose a 15% surtax on foreign buyers, that decision was in line with Chamber members’ strong desire to see a consideration of the effects of foreign ownership on the housing market and to consider a vacancy tax on empty housing. The results of the Province’s study on foreign ownership show Richmond may have the highest percentage of foreign buyers in the region, at 18%.
“While the actions by the Province to impose the 15% tax on foreign buyers seem to be in line with the thoughts of many members of our business community, we caution that the tax may see unintended effects on the market. Moreover the short implementation time of this tax will affect Canadian citizens and residents whose residential deals had not yet closed,” stated Akimow. “Residency requirement may hurt businesses, for example in our growing tech sector, who are trying to recruit skilled workers internationally. We would have preferred to see more thorough study and consultation on the issue before such a broad measure was taken. ” Akimow concluded, “while the new tax will focus on the demand side of the housing affordability issue, we will advocate for all levels of government to work together to incentivize and permit sustainable, affordable housing to ensure the future of our region. The problem of housing unaffordability won’t be solved by disincentives alone.”
Results of question inquiring as to Richmond business’ preferred action on the issue of housing unaffordability.
This survey was opened to all members of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce between July 21st and 26th. Over 15% of members shared their opinions. The results of this survey will be shared with elected officials at all levels of government and will help to formulate Richmond Chamber of Commerce policy positions.
The Richmond Chamber of Commerce is a broad-based non-profit membership association, celebrating over 90 years of commitment to make Richmond the most prosperous and favorable place to do business.
President & CEO
Richmond Chamber of Commerce