The B.C. government is expanding its speculation and vacancy tax to a number of Vancouver Island communities.
According to a statement Wednesday, July 20, the tax will expand into the municipalities of North Cowichan, Duncan, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan, Lions Bay and Squamish, beginning in January 2023.
“After careful consideration and listening to people and community leaders on speculative real estate concerns in their communities, we’re expanding the tax to these additional areas that are facing intense housing pressures,” said Finance Minister Selina Robinson.
Many properties are exempt from the tax, including primary residences and properties with long-term tenants.
Residential property owners in the newly affected areas will be required to declare and claim an exemption in January 2024.
The changes come following a recent independent review report of the current speculation tax, which found it is helping keep housing prices and rents lower.
The report also shows that the speculation tax, along with the two per cent tax rate for foreign owners and satellite families, has aided in the return of approximately 20,000 condo units to the long-term rental market in Metro Vancouver.
Started in 2018, the tax aims to help eliminate speculative real estate practices and turn empty units into homes for those struggling with housing affordability.
The government expects more than 99 per cent of British Columbians will continue to be exempt from paying the tax.
At the Municipality of North Cowichan’s council meeting on July 20, Mayor Al Siebring said he hopes the speculation and vacancy tax that is being introduced to the Cowichan Valley will level the playing field and encourage people who have empty vacation homes in the area to avoid the tax and provide some additional rental housing stock in local markets.
—with a file from Robert Barron,
Cowichan Valley Citizen