Finance Minister Mike de Jong has announced the legislature will meet this month to move on the City of Vancouver’s proposed ’empty homes tax’ to address the housing affordability crisis.
Vancouver currently has a rental vacancy rate of 0.6%, but what about neighbouring cities who also have low vacancy rates?
The City of North Vancouver has a rental vacancy rate of just 0.4%, and Mayor Darrell Mussatto admits they’re facing some of the same problems.
“It’s a top issue in our region. Our staff will look at everything to see if there’s an opportunity there for the city to take advantage of any opportunity to increase our rental and affordable housing.”
But while Mussatto says he’s not against the idea, it’s not coming any time soon.
“A vacancy tax has not been on our radar, we’d have to look at the details. We don’t have the resources like the City of Vancouver has to get into housing at that level.”
Meanwhile, Richmond sits at 0.9%, and Mayor Malcolm Brodie has reservations.
“How are they going to define vacancy, where are they going to draw lines, how do you truly look at the motivation of the owner of a property to keep a property vacant? Physically, how long can someone be in there before it’s not vacant. And secondly, how do you enforce this kind of provision?”
Beyond the practical questions, Brodie says he’s not sure the measure will even address the problem.
“I would want to see the approach, I would want to be sure that this would actually expand the supply of rental units and then it could be considered.”
Neither North Vancouver nor Richmond say they are formally considering such a proposal.