In certain parts of Vancouver, like Coal Harbour, almost a quarter of all homes sit empty.
It’s not that these places aren’t owned, it’s just that no one lives there. The typical reason for that is because the real estate’s being used as an investment property by entrepreneurs, and the result is that Vancouverites are being pushed out of their own city. That’s why Mayor Gregor Robertson has come up with a plan to hit those empty units where it hurts: with a new tax.
“The city will take action on taxing empty homes with or without the help of the B.C. government,” he said. “We know that during this affordability crunch there are over 10,000 empty homes year-round in the City of Vancouver. Those empty homes would add a badly needed supply to our rental housing stock.”
While Roberston argues a provincial tax would be the best option (because B.C. could introduce a “resident vacant” property class that would allow the government to tax the properties with information already collected), he says Vancouver can do it alone if need be. If that ends up being the case, the hike would come through as a new business tax on homes being held as investment properties.
Robertson’s planning to implement the new tax sometime in August.
“Housing is, first and foremost about homes, it’s not just a commodity to make money with,” he said.
It is still unclear exactly what the tax rate would be for unoccupied homes, but the city wants to make it significant enough in order to get investors to change their behaviour. You can learn more about Vancouver’s housing crisis in the video above.