Category Archives: politics

BC Tables Speculation Tax on Vacant Second Homes

Will a new tax on vacant homes help solve the affordability crisis?

The speculation tax will apply to those who own multiple properties in Metro Vancouver, the Capital Regional District (excluding the Gulf Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca), Kelowna, West Kelowna, Nanaimo-Lantzville, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission.

The tax will apply at a reduced rate in 2018, based on property owned as of Dec. 31. It expands in 2019 to 0.5 per cent of assessed value for B.C. residents, one per cent for Canadians from outside B.C., and two per cent for non-Canadians.

Owners are exempt if they rent their properties for at least six months a year. And there is also a tax credit for B.C. residents with second homes valued under $400,000.

James pointed to exemptions she said will make the tax fair, including for people facing medical emergencies, people who have to relocate suddenly for a job, seniors who enter care homes, people undergoing a separation, and those with disabilities.

“If people choose to leave their homes vacant where the housing crisis is the deepest, we are asking them to pay their fair share. All that revenue will be returned to British Columbians in the form of affordable housing,” said James.

Read the full article here.

Legal rent increase to be reduced?

A BC government panel recommends reducing the maximum legal rent increase to help deal with the housing crisis:

The recommendation tries to strike a balance between renters struggling to keep up with rent increases and landlords who need to maintain their properties, Mr. Chandra Herbert told reporters Monday.

While some groups had called for a rent freeze, the task force decided that wasn’t a fair approach, he said.

“We tried to stake a bit of a middle path between those views – one that will allow increased affordability for people, as well as an ability to maintain properties,” Mr. Chandra Herbert said.

“We don’t want to lose rental properties in this province when for so many years, there was no focus on building them,” he added.

Read the full article here.

Vancouver BC is “making room”

In a city with outrageous house prices, more than half the land is zoned as ‘single family’ housing. This leaves very little in the range between very high density mini condo towers and expensive family homes.

Many older cities have addressed this issue with mid density housing including row homes, and it looks like Vancouver is ready to follow suit:

More specifically, the proposal instructs planners to “bring forward policies for RS and RT zones that allow triplexes, quadplexes and other multi-unit formsto significantly bring down the purchase cost per unit of housing in low density neighbourhoods.”

It also recommends setting maximum dwelling unit sizes, reducing parking and setback requirements, eliminating design guidelines, and offering density bonuses for projects that provide community benefits. The city has embarked on an 18-month process to develop and adopt the full program.

Read the full article here.

House prices make city ‘look bad’

When the city of Vancouver was trying to woo Amazon there was some concern that housing data would make the city look bad.

As city staff scrambled last fall to put together a proposal to woo Seattle-based Amazon to build a second headquarters here, they were faced with a major potential weakness: how to make the city attractive in the midst of a housing affordability crisis?”

“Internal email records obtained by the National Post through a freedom-of-information request show that the issue was top of mind for staff within the city’s economic development agency, the Vancouver Economic Commission, some of whom discussed leaving out certain housing data that could make the city “look bad.”

Read the full article over at the National Post.

As Dave puts it “Imagine if they were concerned about housing for locals.

Loonie leaps on hints of rate hike

From southseacompany an article about the lowly looney leaping up on hints of a Canadian interest rate hike:

The Canadian dollar shot up Wednesday after the Bank of Canada held the line on a key interest rate but pointed to a boost in the future.

In foreign exchange trading, the loonie was ahead by 0.82 of a cent at 77.64 cents US when stock markets closed on Wednesday, after being up by more than one cent earlier in the day.

The central bank left its key target for the overnight rate unchanged at 1.25 per cent, where it has been since mid-January.

However, the bank said in a statement accompanying its decision that developments since April reinforce its view that “higher interest rates will be warranted to keep inflation near target.”

Read the full article over at the CBC.