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B.C. premier rejects Green call for foreign buyers ban days before Asia visit

Last Updated Jan 16, 2018 at 7:20 pm EST

VICTORIA – Premier John Horgan says he has plans to tone down speculation in British Columbia’s real estate market but they don’t include banning foreign buyers.

Horgan said Tuesday he rejects recent calls by Green party Leader Andrew Weaver to implement a New Zealand-style law that restricts the purchase of existing homes to residents of New Zealand and Australia.

The government’s February budget will include measures to dampen speculation and increase housing supply, but not a prohibition on foreign buyers, he said.

“I just don’t believe in an open economy that’s an appropriate way to proceed,” he said at his first news conference of 2018.

“I do believe we need to knock back speculation and make sure we are penalizing that behaviour in the interest of reducing demand and softening prices.”

Horgan said a ban on foreign buyers sends the wrong signals to investors about B.C.’s economy.

“B.C.’s the gateway to Canada and I don’t believe we should be curbing people from coming here,” he said. “I’m a child of an immigrant and virtually everyone I see here is a child of an immigrant.”

Weaver said in a statement the government should act to target overseas speculation, moving towards a full ban.

Horgan said he is prepared to face questions about B.C.’s real estate market during his trade visit to China, Korea and Japan, which starts Saturday.

“What we know with absolute certainty is money raised in other parts of the world is distorting our housing market and we want to take steps to address that,” he said.

The former Liberal government introduced a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers purchasing real estate in Metro Vancouver in an effort to help more B.C. residents to buy homes.

Horgan has also said the budget will include measures to stimulate construction of more rental units and family sized homes.