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

Comox Valley Santa’s Workshop in need of bicycles for youngsters, gifts for teens

Santa’s Workshop, at 464 Puntledge Road (formerly the Red Cross building), is… Continue reading

Comox connection to launch of new $10 bill

Great nephew of Viola Desmond says bill is a ‘step in the right direction’

Changes coming to BC Ferries reservations for Vancouver Island routes

Many customers are booking multiple reservations, inflating wait times

Film documents transformation of snowboarders, surfers

Former professional athletes forged deep ties with communities

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Mid Island Farmers Institute discusses fleece at November meeting

Are you a lover of wool and local fibre? Interested in raising… Continue reading

Comox Valley Nature invites the public to learn about nature photography

Comox Valley Nature is hosting a public lecture on photography. Join Terry… Continue reading

Laine scores 3 as Jets double Canucks 6-3

Injury-riddled Vancouver side drops sixth in a row

Deportation averted for Putin critic who feared return to Russia

Elena Musikhina, a vocal critic of the Kremlin, has been granted a two-year visitor’s permit in Canada

Outreach group ordered to stop feeding homeless on City of Parksville property

City issued Manna Homeless Society cease and desist order after complaints from public

Victim’s girlfriend testifies on first day of 2016 Chemainus murder trial

“I was soaked in blood from the neck down”: witness

B.C. to allow Uber-style ride hailing services to operate in late 2019

Fee will be applied to fund options for disabled people

Auditor general takes aim at Liberals’ fighter-jet plan

Suditor general Michael Ferguson is about to release a new report on Canada’s attempts to buy new fighter jets

Most Read