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.

 

Just Posted

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

Mining company prospecting for gold near Bella Coola

Gold discovered in alpine areas where glaciers are receding

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Chiasson nets shootout winner as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2

Edmonton moves one point ahead of Vancouver

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Truck hauling compressed gas for ‘virtual pipeline’ crashes on B.C. highway

Driver charged and highway closed for nine hours - containers did not rupture

Most Read