The May Day event in Vancouver took people on a walking tour of 10 homes worth $433 million. Organizers want them to pay more taxes

About 100 people marched through Point Grey near Jericho Beach for Saturdays Billionaire Bash, protesting housing prices and land speculation and how those factors affect affordability in Vancouver.Jason Payne/PNG

No wealthy Point Grey property owners were harmed during the May Day Billionaire Bash rally Saturday afternoon in Vancouver, but apapier-mch effigy was damaged beyond repair.

About 80 people turned up for the Vancouver May Day Collective event in Locarno Park where, surrounded by a concentration of multimillion-dollar homes, activists spoke from the bed of a rented pickup truck about their concerns regarding wealth inequality in B.C.

They argued that excessive land wealth accumulated by property owners in the tony neighbourhood symbolized a failure by all levels of government to adequately tax B.C.s top earners, while many others struggle to afford housing, food and other basic necessities.

People from groups such as the Alliance Against Displacement, Vancouver Tenants Union, Socialist Alternative, Teaching Support Staff Union and Mining Justice Alliance all called for a change to tax systems.

They chanted: From Toronto to B.C., f the bourgeoisie and Working class under attack, what do we do? Fight back!

Marchers then followed the rental truck loaded with a PA system blasting music by Rage Against the Machine up Belmont Avenue.

Capitalism, tear it down! Colonialism, tear it down! Their wealth, tear it down!

As they made their way past parked Range Rovers and luxury sports cars, locals peeked over hedges and through curtains to see who was causing such a racket.

At the corner of Bellevue and Belmont which organizers called the entryway toBillionaires Row they banged on pots and pans.

An organizer brought the crowd to4707 Belmont Ave., a 28,794-square-foot home overlooking Spanish Banks assessed at $65.47 million for 2019.

It was the second-highest assessed home in B.C., after Lululemon founder Chip Wilsons $73.12-million, 15,694-sq.-ft. home on Point Grey Road. They visited 10 homes collectively worth about $433 million.

A piñata of Rich Uncle Pennybags of Monopoly fame was smashed as part of Saturdays Billionaire Bash to protest housing prices, inequality and unaffordability in Vancouver.Submitted/Vancouver May Day Collective

The Billionaire Bash wrapped up after a few hours with a barbecue, where activists smashed a piata of Rich Uncle Pennybags, the mascot for the Monopoly board game, spilling fake cash and candy onto the grass.

Alex Hemingway, public finance policy analyst for the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, explained thatland wealth is a major source of inequality in B.C.

He pointed to the more than $1-trillion increase in property wealth in B.C. since 2007 ($1.861 trillion in 2018, up from $808 billion in 2007,according to B.C. Assessment). Meantime, B.C.s population was up only 16.3 per cent to 4.992 million in 2018, from 4.291 million in 2007.

Its one thing when people pay their mortgage or make improvements to buildings, but most of that increase in property wealth is an increase in the land (value), said Hemingway.

Land wealth is created by all of us its created by a growing city around us, its created by public investment in services and infrastructure. Because we all created it together, it should be much more equally shared among us, so I think a good way to start sharing that wealth is by focusing on the really extremely valued properties a good place to start taxing back that wealth.

Hemingway said the recently introduced speculation, empty-homes and school taxes have seemed to slow down housing costs, along with the federal mortgage stress test.

But his group has long called for a progressive tax on homes assessed at more than $1 million.

When you do that, you can actually bring in an incredible amount of revenue that could be used to build the housing we need in this city, and also ease the scarcity of housing, Hemingway said.

Rocco Trigueros, on the steering community of theVancouver Tenants Union, said he would like to see those progressive tax dollars used to build public housing.

Not using developers to build houses is the answer, he said. Public housing is the government taking full responsibility at the three levels federal, provincial and local to make sure that housing is affordable and a human right.

Trigueros said tenants are fed up with evictions and the scarcity of rental units in B.C., and how slowly the government is responding to the shortage of affordable housing.

He questioned whether some property owners are paying a fair share.

Many of these mansions according to documents are owned by students who are barely making enough to survive, he said. So its just a scam and were here to put an end to it, but especially were here to put an end to the complicity that is creating so much inequality.

B.C. had the highest rate of inequality of all the provinces in 2016, when it was increasing faster here than most other places, according to areportby the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition.

In the last 10 years, the average household income of the top one per cent in B.C. has increased by 36 per cent, while median incomes have stagnated. Inequality is linked to multiple health and social problems, the report indicated.

In March, the B.C. government unveiled its firstpoverty-reduction plan, aimed at a25-per-cent reduction in poverty, and a 50-per-cent reduction in child poverty, within five years. It would mean lifting at least 140,000 above the poverty line, including 50,000 children.

LISTEN:Vancouver Sun columnist Douglas Todd and realtor Gary Wong join host Stuart McNish to discuss the impact foreign buyers have on Vancouver real estate prices and how they contribute to their communities as taxpayers and consumers spending in the local economy.

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