With files from The Simi Sara Show.
A rare summer sitting of the legislature is set for next week in order for the provincial government to amend provincial law and clear the path for the City of Vancouver to impose some sort of a vacancy tax.
However, the Mayor of West Vancouver doesn’t think a vacancy tax is a sensible way to address the problem.
“I don’t see any way it can be efficiently administered. What constitutes vacancy? Everybody has their own definition, and you’d need a bureaucracy to administer it.”
Instead Mayor Michael Smith wants a non-resident residential tax for West Vancouver.
“Which is what is done elsewhere in many, many countries. I have a home in Hawaii, I pay a non-resident residential tax rate which is much higher than would be applied to that home if it was occupied by somebody that lived in it full time.”
He says the extra money raised by the higher tax rate is used to provide housing for local residents.
And with the average house in West Vancouver now priced at three million dollars, Smith says affordable rental housing is needed more than ever.
“We have obviously a critical affordability situation where our municipal employees, our policemen and our firefighters, and all the other employees who work in West Vancouver, and our children who want to stay in the community – they can’t afford to do that. So we need to provide other forms of housing.”
LISTEN to the full interview:
Taxing investors at a higher rate
Smith says the fundamental issue with his tax proposal is differentiating between people who buy a home to live in, and people who buy a home as an investment.
“The criteria is, if it’s your principal residence you pay a different tax rate. Whether you’re a Canadian citizen or not a Canadian citizen, if it’s your principal residence then you by definition would have to pay federal income tax here, and everything else. So you would then attract a lower tax rate on your residential home.”
They hope to have it in place by next tax year, Smith says the next step is to have West Vancouver MLA Ralph Sultan advance the argument when the legislature is is session next week.