British Columbia

Victoria city council holds back on foreign buyers tax

Although council — sitting as the committee of the whole — voted for the tax at an earlier meeting, the tax failed a vote at a city council meeting Thursday.

After tentatively approving the tax at earlier committee meeting, council ultimately rejects it

Victoria city council has decided to hold off on requesting their own 15 per cent foreign buyers tax. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Victoria will not go ahead with a foreign buyers tax after all, even though the tax was given a tentative green light at an earlier committee meeting.

The earlier successful vote — made with council sitting as a committee of the whole — passed five to three.

But during a council meeting on Thursday April 27, councillors voted four to four (Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe didn't vote due to conflict of interest).

The tie nullified the proposal.

If it had passed at this council meeting, Victoria would have asked the province to impose the 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers in the city. 

Similar taxes have been imposed in Vancouver and Toronto as a measure to cool those real estate markets.

Victoria is facing a housing affordability crisis, but Mike Nugent from Victoria's Real Estate Board — who spoke against the tax at the council meeting — said a foreign buyers tax wouldn't help.

"The risk of implementing the tax may be greater than its potential desired outcome," he said.

"The ongoing effect is the high end market in Vancouver taking a hit ... The implementation of the tax did nothing to improve affordability of the portion of the market that really needed it."

At the meeting, Councillor Margaret Lucas — who voted against the motion — said there are a number of other measures that can help alleviate housing costs like increasing housing supply by increasing garden suites and secondary suites.

"I don't think that this [tax] will do anything in the City of Victoria to stop escalating prices," she said. "We need to get more supply in our city."