Category Archives: opinion

Hey Vancouver! Why so miserable?

You’d think that living in a great city would make you happy, but apparently that’s not true for everyone.  Southseacompany points out this article about why people in Vancouver and Toronto are so unhappy.

Vancouver is now a place you try to survive as much as enjoy. All the problems are well known, the greatest being the high cost of housing. When you, as a young person, have little hope of making a comfortable life in a city that you love, of course it’s going to cause unhappiness. There is a sense that Vancouver is being yanked away from those who love it most, taken over by mercantilists and arrivistes from around the world who care little about a city’s “soul” so long as the skiing’s good and there’s a place that sells beluga caviar. And then there are those sitting on a lottery ticket with the house they bought years ago, waiting to cash out, and those sitting on a mountain of debt, praying interest rates don’t go up. It doesn’t sound like the kind of environment that would engender a cool community vibe, a place where relationships between people can flourish. And that, I think, is what the survey on happiness has tapped into.

Read the full article here.

Calgary most liveable city in Canada?

The economist ranks Calgary as the most liveable city in Canada, Vancouver follows up in 6th place.

Every year, the research and analysis arm of the London-based publisher of the Economist magazine ranks 140 cities and scores them based on 30 different factors, boiled down to five categories:

  • Stability (based on local rates of crime, terrorism and military unrest).
  • Quality of local health care.
  • Local culture and environment (everything from weather to quality of local restaurants).
  • Quality of education.
  • Quality of infrastructure (everything from transit to electrical grids and telecommunications networks).

Melbourne was first seven years in a row before being displaced by the Austrian capital.

Not factored in on that list: cost of living or incomes. Read the full article over at the CBC.

BC Speculation Tax Impact

People who own more than one home are worried about the new speculation tax:

From a Vancouver Island resident with a condo in Vancouver: “If the proposed speculation tax proceeds as you describe, the two-per-cent tax will far exceed the B.C. income tax that we normally pay. We will have no choice but to sell our Vancouver condo. We’re not speculators. We simply wanted to enjoy a few days a month in the city we used to live in, in the comfort of our own condo.”

On the problem for seniors with recreational properties that have been in the family for years: “If they pay zero income tax because their annual income is low enough to warrant no tax — i.e. married couple making around $25,000 or so — they’d never recover the amount.”

From someone with a place on Saturna: “They call it a speculation tax, but it seems more like an empty home tax. The government claims that taxing homes which remain empty most of the year will help deal with the housing shortage. If that is the case, why isn’t Whistler included? The prices are skyrocketing and there is a real housing shortage for workers. On the other hand, they include a Gulf Island like Saturna, where there isn’t a housing shortage and housing prices haven’t risen in more than eight years.”

On the perverse incentives of a tax vis-a-vis longtime residents versus actual speculators: “If you speculate and sell the property quickly, you pay the tax once, while those keeping property for years pay years of tax. The short-term speculators win!”

Read the full article here.

Negatives for real estate

Yvr2zrh shared this comment:

Wow. Quite a lot of negatives for real estate values.

1.) If you live outside Vancouver and keep an apartment empty there, you now have a very punitive tax. Total will be 3% by 2019 (only 0.5% provincial in 2018 as a bit of a leeway to allow people to sell).

2.) FBT @20% – pretty good. Big tax – starts immediately. Wow . More people will get caught again. Deals will die. Also if property is over $3M – this will make it 25% for a foreigner to buy a Van West house. Then they have to pay 3% per year ($90K?) to leave it empty. Game over.

3.) The 2% spec tax – Strange name – it’s more of an absentee owner / empty home tax. It’s pretty sizeable. It’s going to be strange but somehow I think they are going to force it onto certain “principal residences” i.e. students, 10-Year visa people – who don’t qualify for really being a resident. Then – if they really pay tax in BC there is a tax credit. Good system.

4.) Full reporting of pre-sale transactions for tax purposes. I suppose that may help but you need to require a tax withholding for non-residents because otherwise – they just won’t pay.

5.) Unveiling all the hidden ownership – starting with collecting on new transactions and forcing existing transactions to be unveiled.

So – I would say that “Housing for Housing” has been supported and properties for non-residents etc – – that will be tough. What about all the Okanagan properties owned by Albertans – – It’s going to be interesting to see how many people bail!!!