With files from Charmaine de Silva.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong has announced the legislature will reconvene July 25th to tackle BC’s housing affordability crisis, including supporting the City of Vancouver’s proposed vacant homes tax.
Vancouver will be given the power to implement and administer the vacancy tax.
— Charmaine de Silva (@char_des) July 11, 2016
Lack of supply the main focus
Minister de Jong says ultimately housing affordability is about supply.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has been clear about the purpose of an empty homes tax; to increase rental supply in the city.
The current vacancy rate in Vancouver is less than one per cent.
— Emily Lazatin (@EmilyLazatin980) June 27, 2016
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who has been pushing for the measure, says he’s pleased, adding that homes should be lived in, not used to make a profit.
“We’ve said twelve months of the year, that’s full time no one’s living there. It’s not s residence so it shouldn’t be taxed as a residence, it’s a business holding because businessed generate income. So if that’s what homes are doing for people rather than being places where peopel live, then they need to pay a higher tax.”
Robertson says the question now is whether the tax is effectively administered, in order to boost the supply of rental housing.
He says the vacancy tax will not be used to target part time residents.
Too little, too late for NDP Housing critic
For his part, NDP housing critic David Eby says the government’s rush to do something right now it too little, too late.
“What’s urgent is their poll numbers and they look at Metro Vancouver, that’s the only thing that is forcing them to take action, and the action they are allegedly taking is the least they could do.”
Her says he is disappointed today’s announcement mentions nothing about foreign investment.
Foreign buyers account for 5% of buyers in Vancouver
Last week, Minister de Jong released new numbers on foreign ownership collected by the province through property tax transfer forms.
The information collected was for a twenty day period in June of this year.
The province also took away the real estate industry’s right to self-regulate last month, following a report on the industry by the Independent Advisory Group.