B.C. government, Vancouver to collaborate on creating empty homes tax

VANCOUVER – The provincial government will look into taxing empty homes in a bid to increase affordable housing across B.C.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong says government staff will work with the City of Vancouver to develop a proposal for the vacancy tax soon, with discussions focusing on how to figure out which homes are empty.

De Jong met with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson Monday to discuss the potential levy after Robertson said last week that the city will move forward on the tax plan with or without the province’s help.

Robertson says a higher property tax on vacant homes would create an incentive for owners to rent, creating more available units in the city where the rental vacancy rate is 0.6 per cent.

He says the city will still move forward with imposing a business tax on vacant homes if it cannot come to an agreement with the province.

Both men say affordable housing is a serious problem across the province and that the proposed tax is just one of many issues that need to be taken in order to address the issue.