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

Rockets look to bounce back with win against Prince George

Rockets look for 9th win of the season after back to back losses

Kelowna’s definitive Christmas market list

We’ve prepared a list of every market in the Central Okanagan

RCMP search for stolen 5th wheel travel trailer

The trailer was said to be stolen from West Kelowna on Nov. 9

West Kelowna ranks sixth in Expedia coziest city list

Osoyoos and Vernon also made the cut

West Kelowna Warriors strengthen defense with trade

Warriors aquire Austin Chorney from the Vernon Vipers

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Kuhnhackl scores 2 odd goals as Isles dump Canucks 5-2

Vancouver drops second game in two nights

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Police in Vernon catch suspects after armed robbery in Salmon Arm

Victims told police they were robbed at knife point near an ATM

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Most Read