British Columbia

Vancouver homeowners missing out on $30M in grants, says councillor

Vancouver city councillor Raymond Louie wants the province to review the homeowner grant, because so many people in Metro Vancouver find themselves ineligible for it as their property values continue to rise.

Many homeowners not eligible because homes worth more than grant threshold

The benchmark house price in Vancouver — close to $1.5 million — is over the provincial government's homeowner grant threshold of $1.2 million. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

A Vancouver city councillor is asking the provincial government to review the homeowner grant program because he says vulnerable homeowners in the city are missing out on $30 million of provincial grant money due to outdated criteria.

Raymond Louie said residential properties valued at $1.2 million or less are currently eligible for the grant, with supplemental grants provided to seniors and veterans. Historically, this has meant about 95 per cent of residences would be eligible for a homeowner's grant.

Today, with Vancouver home assessment values topping $1.2 million, Louie argues only 64.7 per cent of homeowners are now eligible for the grant.

"It's most pronounced in the city of Vancouver where homeowners are now ineligible for this grant ... and that increases the unaffordability within the city."

Louie is proposing the province review and change the criteria. Instead of the $1.2 million threshold, he's arguing the province should ensure 95 per cent of the city's homeowners are eligible for the grant once more.

"You look back to 2005, [the grant covered] 95 per cent of properties in B.C., all the way up until 2014 where it suddenly dropped."

Homeowners missing out on $30 million

If the city received 95 per cent coverage today, Louie said it would allow Vancouver homeowners to keep $30 million in total.

"When we have these assessments that are going up — especially on the east side of our city — people who have lived there for many years — seniors, fixed income — they can no longer afford these types of increases."

Typically, recipients of the grant can receive $570 a year, whereas those who receive the supplemental grant — like seniors — get $845.

As for whether homeowners who have benefited from sky-rocketing house prices should also benefit from a grant, Louie said the benefits will trickle down to other residents.

"Many homes in our city have secondary suites, and the homeowner will try and recoup some of this lost grant by raising rents to their tenants and such," he explained.

Louie will introduce a motion at today's council meeting to lobby the province to review the threshold.

A recent motion put forth by the city of Burnaby at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention for a province-wide review of the program was defeated. 

With files from The Early Edition


To hear the interview, click on the link labelled Vancouver city councillor Raymond Louie wants province to review homeowner grant

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