05/13/2015 11:50 EDT | Updated 05/13/2016 05:59 EDT

B.C. Premier Christy Clark opposed to taxing foreign homeowners

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is ruling out a tax increase for foreigners buying homes in Metro Vancouver, as an online petition calling for a restriction on foreign investment gathers nearly 18,000 signatures.

Clark said the government is trying to tackle the growing challenge of home ownership in Metro Vancouver, but is ruling out applying an additional tax on foreign buyers.

"That is good for first-time owners, but not for anyone who is counting on the equity in their homes to maybe get a loan or use the money to finance some other projects," Clark said.

The average two-storey detached home is now selling for more than $1.27 million in Vancouver.

A petition called "Restrict Foreign Investment in Greater Vancouver's Residential Real Estate Market" has nearly 18,000 signatures.

But any sudden change could have unintended consequences for those who already have invested in a home, the premier said.

"By moving foreign owners out of the market housing prices will drop," she said.

The government has in the past offered tax incentives to first-time home buyers, and is working on new benefits, but there is no concrete plan in place, Clark said.  

"We are open to some new ideas."