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Empty-homes tax to be debated next week, with some owners sure to say “But it wasn’t meant for people like me”

November 12th, 2016 · 3 Comments

It’s become the norm this fall to attend news conferences announcing upcoming policy issues at council. There was yet another one Wednesday, where Mayor Gregor Robertson and staff outlined the details of the city’s proposed new empty-homes tax. My story here and the city’s report here.

The interesting part now is going to be who from the public shows up to comment on this. I’m told that more than one owner of a secondary home in Vancouver has contacted the city, complaining that the tax is unfair because they were lifelong residents, now retired out of Vancouver, but with a small place here so they can continue to visit grandchildren. Not the stereotype of the vacant condo that has been so prevalent.

At any rate, it’s unlikely the tax will be stopped now. Vancouver is in the cross-hairs, one of the special club of global cities trying to figure out what to do as the price of housing as escalated far past local wages. No one knows quite what to do (except possibly Germany, which maintains pretty tight control on the housing market and ensures that rentals are rock-solid secure) and everyone is trying something of everything.

We will play our part in the experiments.


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