Since the announcement of the 2018 B.C. Budget in February, one of the hottest topics in the province has been the implementation of the new speculation tax.
In a press release this morning, Finance Minister Carole James announced that the government is set to move forward with the controversial speculation tax, and a vacancy tax.
“We believe the people who live and work in B.C. should be able to afford a place to call home. Right now, British Columbians are faced with some of the highest housing prices in the world and there is widespread support for government’s plan to moderate the housing market,” Carole James, Minister of Finance, said.
“We’re tackling this housing crisis head-on and the speculation and vacancy tax is an essential piece in our plan.”
This legislation is the first of its kind in Canada and is meant to preserve the housing market for local residents and protect it from “people looking to use [it] as a resting place for both foreign capital and other speculative investments”.
According to the press release, all revenue raised from the speculation and vacancy tax will be used to fund affordable housing for people who live in B.C.
Responses and opposition
Specific changes to the tax were announced in March after considerable protest from developers and people – not speculators – who own secondary vacation homes.
However, not everyone was satisfied with the amendments.
“After trying to implement taxes by trial and error, the NDP are now scrambling to come up with a plan,” says BC Liberal leader, Andrew Wilkinson.
“The updated version of this tax still doesn’t focus on speculators who are flipping homes and condos. Instead, the NDP introduced arbitrary boundary changes to exempted areas that appear to be politically motivated.”
Moreover, homeowners in Alberta and other parts of Canada also launched a class action lawsuit against British Columbia, arguing that it discriminates against people living in Alberta who own secondary homes in BC, and thus violates section 6 of the Charter of Rights of fellow Canadians which guarantees interprovincial mobility to all citizens.
The tax also faced opposition from mayors of Oak Bay, Langford, Kelowna and West Kelowna who called for the option to opt out of implementing it in their municipalities, at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) meeting.