British Columbia

Vancouver wants feedback on empty homes tax

The city of Vancouver is seeking public input on the empty homes tax through an online survey and two open houses to be held on Oct. 15 and 17.

Public consultations to be held Oct. 15 and Oct. 17

Vancouver's mayor hopes a tax on vacant homes would encourage owners of empty homes to rent them out rather than leave them empty. (Christer Waara/CBC)

The city of Vancouver is holding open houses Saturday and Monday to hear what the public has to say about the city's proposed empty homes tax.

According to the mayor and council, the measure is intended to create more rental stock by taxing vacant secondary homes. The city says the idea is to encourage people who own secondary homes to rent out their properties instead of keeping them empty.

An online survey — which will close Tuesday, Oct. 18 — asks respondents what they think of the task and why homes are left empty in the first place.

The proposed tax has been controversial. 

Critics have questioned how the city will enforce the tax, with some saying it will rely on neighbourhood snitches to report vacant homes.

Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Homeowners Association, said the tax will do little to add to the city's rental supply as many of Vancouver's vacant properties are high-end, and investors would be reluctant to rent those luxury properties out.

"The problem with that is will an investor that owns a $2 million unit be prepared to lower the rent to a point where they're going to be able to get accommodation — I would be surprised if that's going to happen."

Mayor Gregor Robertson has said if people choose to pay the tax, the revenue will be used to build affordable housing.

The public open houses will take place on Oct.15 at 10 - 2 p.m. PT at the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch, and on Oct.17 from 4 - 8 p.m. PT at Oakridge Mall.

Council is expected to make a final decision on the tax in November.

With files from The Early Edition

To hear the interview, click on the link labelled Condo Homeowners Association says city's proposed empty tax won't work