UBCM endorses Oak Bay motion to give municipal control over spec tax

Resolution endorsed by UBCM’s Resolution Committee and B.C. Green Party leader

The Union of B.C. Municipalities delegates agreed Wednesday (Sept. 12) to urge the provincial government to give communities the right to choose whether or not, or how to impose a vacant home tax.

The motion came from Oak Bay and urges the province to replace the current provincial speculation tax proposal with one that would empower municipalities to bring in a local vacancy tax. This power would allow individual municipalities to make the choice of whether to have a vacancy tax. The resolution was endorsed by both the UBCM’s Resolution Committee and B.C. Green Party leader, Andrew Weaver.

“We felt that we know our community of Oak Bay better than anyone else, certainly better than the provincial government,” Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen told Black Press News Media after the resolution passed. “The value of letting local governments do it, is first of all we know best, second of all we can use that money for affordable housing in our community or in our regions.”

The speculation tax will be proposed in legislation that is to be brought forward in the fall and is designed to punish those property owners who leave units vacant and, according to B.C. Finance Minster Carole James, “parking their capital on our housing market simply to speculate, driving up prices and removing rental stock.”

RELATED: MLA REPORT: Speculation tax can carry unforeseen consequences

The speculation tax was scaled back in March to exempt rural recreation properties. The Gulf Islands, the Juan de Fuca region in Premier John Horgan’s constituency, Parksville and Qualicum Beach are being exempted. The municipalities of Nanaimo, Lantzville, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission would still be included, as are the cities of Kelowna and West Kelowna, when the tax takes effect in 2019.

But there are concerns about what the tax would mean to the community of Oak Bay and others that have many residents maintaining one home here and another away, only spending a portion of the year in the community, or those that are transitioning into retirement and a move to the coast but not living here full-time yet. Oak Bay is one of the B.C. communities where Albertans and Americans have sold vacation homes rather than pay tax

RELATED: Payroll, speculation tax top municipal agenda for B.C.

The resolution from Oak Bay calls for the province to let municipalities administer extra property taxes on vacant residential properties, and spend the money on “non-market housing” to help lower-income buyers and renters.

The tax takes effect on 2018 property value and stays at 0.5 per cent for B.C. residents with second homes. Residences that are rented out six months or more of the year will also be exempt from the tax, which was patterned after Vancouver’s “empty home tax” to discourage real estate speculators from pushing up prices.

The tax is provincial jurisdiction, so while it impacts the community, municipalities can only advocate for changes, they do not have the power to change them.

-with files from Tom Fletcher

Just Posted

West Shore parents want $10-a-day daycare pilot at other centres

Some parents want pilot funding going towards families in financial need

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh proposes new approach to tackling opioid crisis

Singh says the government should look at harm reduction rather than punishment

UPDATED: Malahat reopened in both directions following car fire

Drive BC says the road will be closed until approximately 3pm

Police still investigating possible child abduction in Langford

Suspect was a stranger and not a family member

20 per cent down payment means many still cannot afford to own their own home

Study finds Langford one of only four markets without a gap between required and actual income in owning a home

First ticket sold for Victoria’s second comic con

Guest list is top-secret for the March 22-24 Capital City Comic Con coming 2019

Road-weary Canucks thumped 6-2 by Wild

Vancouver hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Toronto private school didn’t report alleged sexual assault to police

Police say a sexual assault at an all-boys Catholic institution was not reported to them

China says butt out; Canada calls for release of “arbitrarily” detained Muslims

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman accused Canada’s envoy of going beyond their diplomatic roles

Dead Saskatoon tattoo artist’s skin removed and preserved

The skin was removed in honour of the well known artist’s work

North Cowichan is Canada’s hot spot on Wednesday

The Warmland lives up to its name

B.C. Realtor suspended after helping intern forge note about sick grandma

Vancouver real estate agent Jaideep Singh Puri has to pay fine, take ethics course

Offensive Facebook post by Okanagan Conservative riding sparks outrage

Post taken down after Conservative MP in neighbouring riding condemns it and demands removal

Most Read