B.C. will empower Vancouver tax on empty homes

Legislature will be recalled July 25 to amend Vancouver Charter, De Jong doesn't rule out allowing similar taxes by other cities

The B.C. legislature is being recalled for a rare summer sitting starting July 25 to give the City of Vancouver power to impose a tax on vacant homes in response to growing concerns about housing affordability.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong called Vancouver’s plan to tax unoccupied homes a “reasonable step” to try to push more units into the tight rental market.

The government will introduce amendments to the Vancouver Charter to provide clear authority to impose such a tax without the city having to try to camouflage it as some sort of business tax, de Jong said.

“It is about trying to increase the supply of rental accommodation,” de Jong said. “That is something the province and the government take very seriously.”

RELATED: Foreigners bought 5.1 per cent of Metro Vancouver homes sold in June

Without the special legislative sitting this summer to give the city enough time to develop regulations, he said, there was a risk the new tax couldn’t take effect until 2018.

The province has not yet had any requests from other municipalities for similar taxation authority, which de Jong said would require amendments to the Community Charter that sets out the powers of municipalities other than Vancouver.

“The challenges associated with people coming here in a strong economy are not going to be solved overnight,” de Jong added. “They’re not going to be solved in any one single way. It’s going to take governments working together.”

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson had threatened to go it alone if the province refused to support its taxation plan.

De Jong’s announcement Monday came after the release last week of new data from June on the level of declared investment by foreign nationals in B.C. residential real estate.

The government also wants privacy commissioner approval to share other information with Vancouver that could help the city enforce the tax, said de Jong.

It’s not yet clear how the city would deem a home unoccupied, whether electricity consumption might be used as a gauge, or what tax rate would be applied.

Robertson has said tax money raised from owners who opt to leave their units empty would be used to create new housing.

The province has so far adopted a wait-and-see response to the preliminary data on foreign buyers, deferring calls for other taxation measures to rein in rapidly rising real estate prices.

The government also intends to pass legislation to follow through on its commitment to end self-regulation of B.C.’s real estate industry.

Just Posted

Fees ensure patients have access to parking at SMH, FHA says

Fraser Health Authority hasn’t heard yet from city hall about pay parking at Surrey hospital

Surrey memories: How the ‘IGUISBCSIR’ Facebook page became a hub for anecdotal history

Former Whalley resident Wes Mussato launched the group in 2011, 11 years after he’d moved to Ontario

OUR VIEW: Fraser Health should park the Surrey Memorial Hospital parking fees

On Monday, city council approved free parking, for two hours at a time, on the streets around SMH

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP say missing 17-year-old girl located

Police say Rachel Friend was last seen at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 19, near the 14900-block of 81A Avenue

Three-team trade brings another goalie into Surrey Eagles’ nest

BCHL team ships Chase Stevenson to Trail and acquires blue-liner, goalie

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Pot users, investors need to be vigilant at Canada-U.S. border

U.S. authorities say anyone who admits to having used pot before it became legal could be barred

Shirtless stranger loomed over couch and started stabbing, bloody B.C. murder trial hears

Colin John pleads not guilty as trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder case

Late 2019 too long to wait for ridesharing: B.C. Conservatives

“While the rest of the world is embracing this transportation revolution, B.C. is only now staggering slowly toward legislation on a business model that’s been mainstreamed for over a decade in other jurisdictions.”

ICBC warns shoppers of the high-accident season at mall parking lots

Over 150,000 accidents happened during the holiday season last year

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

COLUMN: Higher interest rates will slow B.C. economy after ‘unusually robust’ show

Jock Finlayson is executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

Jason Aldean, Old Dominion to headline Merritt’s Rockin’ River concerts next summer

Four-day music festival at Coldwater River from Aug. 1 to 4

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Most Read