B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

The B.C. government has made last-minute changes to its “speculation and empty homes tax,” halving the rate to 0.5 per cent for all Canadian owners of second homes and promising the revenues will be spent for housing initiatives in the area where taxes are collected.

Finance Minister Carole James announced the changes Thursday, along with B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, two days after tabling legislation that would have imposed the tax at one per cent on Albertans and other Canadians with second homes in B.C.

Foreign property owners and “satellite families” whose family income is mostly reported outside Canada will pay two per cent of the assessed value.

(See full video of James and Weaver’s news conference at bottom of story.)

James first rolled back the extent of the tax in March after protests from vacation homeowners, and Weaver. The first overhaul exempted the Gulf Islands, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, the Juan de Fuca region in Premier John Horgan’s constituency and rural areas of the Fraser Valley and Central Okanagan.

The property tax now applies only to Metro Vancouver, Greater Victoria and the municipalities of Nanaimo, Lantzville, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Kelowna and West Kelowna. It is to take effect based on 2018 assessed property values, with notices to go out early in 2019.

Mayors of affected communities protested loudly about the tax, reporting cancelled housing projects and questioning the assumption that affordable housing would result from people being forced to rent out or sell their vacation homes.

RELATED: Carole James unmoved by mayors’ tax concerns

James said the latest change is expected to reduce revenue from the tax by up to $30 million from the original budget estimate of $200 million in revenue.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said the NDP government’s tax policy is “collapsing,” with major changes after the government tabled legislation running to more than 100 pages to implement the tax. He said simple arithmetic shows that the repeated slashing of the tax will cost much more than $30 million in revenues.

Wilkinson also questioned the new rule that revenue would go toward new rental housing in the areas where it is collected, an apparent move to placate local governments who want to decide their own vacant-home tax the way Vancouver did.

“Remember, the specific regions hit by the tax are places like Oak Bay, West Vancouver, West Kelowna,” Wilkinson said. “Is that where we need our affordable housing money spent? This is a way to try to pay off the mayors to keep them quiet.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturespeculation tax

 

Just Posted

Our community news matters

Guest editorial by Arnold Malone

The GoPro that refused to drown

A snorkler found a submerged GoPro and used the camera footage to find the owners

Shuswap Indian Band supports students, voices concerns for families

Shuwap Indian Band collaborates with school district on crafts, workbooks, worksheets and contests

Group home offers solace through pandemic

Rolf Heer says “life is good” at Columbia Garden Village

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read