British Columbia

B.C. government set to raise homeowner grant threshold

The B.C. government is set to increase the homeowner grant threshold to help deal with the growing tax burden for people whose home values have gone over the current limit.

Ministry of Finance says to expect formal announcement in next few days

The B.C. government has confirmed it will increase the B.C. Home Owner Grant threshold from $1.2 million. (David Horemans/CBC)

The B.C. government is set to increase the homeowner grant threshold to help deal with the growing tax burden for people whose home values have gone over the current limit.

The Ministry of Finance would not say how much the threshold would go up, only that an increase from the current $1.2 million limit would be announced later this week. 

The province would also not provide numbers on how many homes went over the limit because of rising home values released by B.C. Assessment last week. The average home in Metro Vancouver and southern Vancouver Island went up between 30 and 50 per cent. 

Currently, anyone who owns and lives in a home assessed at less than $1.2 million can receive a $570 grant to help offset property taxes. 

But the news is not enough for Sheila Stewart.

Her home in Victoria went up in value this year from $844,000 to $1.215 million. Without the increase, she says she would have lost her homeowner grant.

Stewart says the provincial government has not done enough to help with housing affordability. There are four other houses on Stewart's block on Sunset Avenue that have seen values go from below the current threshold to above it.  

"One of the reasons I am selling it is because I can't afford to keep it up. I am retired. If I had to pay these full taxes it would cause even greater hardship than it does now. I hope that my house sells soon," said Stewart. "Everything is just going up and up in terms of costs."

The province says last year about 91 per cent of homes in the province were covered by the $1.2 million threshold value to get the grant.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced last year an increase from $1.1 million to the current upper limit. The grant program currently costs the province about $800 million each year.

NDP Housing Critic David Eby said it is too hard to predict what would be an appropriate threshold for the homeowner grant considering many homes have seen values go up quickly.

"This is a government that let the housing crisis get so far out of control. It would be hard to know what enough would be to address the affordability issues people are facing in many places of the province," said Eby. 

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