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The empty-homes tax is done. Well, maybe … except for an exemption to come for “family use”?

November 17th, 2016 · 4 Comments

It was one confusing council meeting at one point Tuesday, as Councillor Kerry Jang made a motion to amend the empty-homes tax, basically asking staff to study new data coming in in 2017 and decide whether there should be some kind of exemption for secondary homes “frequented for family purposes.”

Your guess is as good as mine as to what this might mean. It also caused some confusion at council, which had to break briefly so that councillors and staff could huddle to talk about what that all might mean and whether it was legal and doable.

I need to ask more questions about this, because it’s not clear to me what should happen with families who think that they might qualify for this new, undefined exemption — should they hope it will be allowed and hang on to their condos? or sell or rent now, in case it isn’t allowed. (Or be prepared to take the hit.)

The NPA wanted to delay everything until that question was settled. But the Vision councillors clearly wanted to send the message to the public and media that the tax is moving forward.

In the meantime, the meeting also gave us a glimpse of some of the people who feel as though the tax is unfair to them. It was supposed to apply to people who are truly investors, truly people hedging their investments with empty property in Vancouver. Not them. People who, through good planning and diligence, have managed to end up owning both a house (or two) outside Vancouver and a house or condo inside Vancouver. My story here has some of their comments.

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