Lisa Helps says they are prime for re-development
First there was a tax for foreign buyers shopping for real estate in Vancouver.
Now Vancouver’s mayor is proposing a vacant-home tax, up to five percent.
The goal is to reign in ballooning housing costs on the Lower Mainland.
That has some wondering whether government should take measures to preserve affordability here as well.
Mary Griffin reports.
It’s one of Victoria’s 34 vacant, derelict, properties.
Located at 1176 Yates, it used to be a rooming house, but the boards went up on the windows years ago.
The city wants to tax the owners of those properties abandoned and falling apart.
Nearby resident Danna Waldman says it’s time to do something.
“But something like this is, sadly, been allowed to become decrepit.
It’s structurally unsound.”
And Victoria’s Mayor, Lisa Helps, sees an opportunity in derelict properties.
“There are some that are prime development sites on arterial roads that I think should be re-developed.
It’s a disgrace that they sit vacant and derelict.
And do, if we were given the powers, that’s where we would start.”
Two years ago, fire tore through this property at 2321 Cook Street.
Along with the Yates property, it’s owned by Vancouver resident Robin Kimpton.
Neighbours point to many problems over the years.
“Lots of squatters, and you know, every once in a while you’ll notice a window broken inside.
So obviously activity inside.”
The building was demolished, and today the lot sits vacant.
According to Helps it’s prime for someone to develop.
“We do know that those derelict properties are a problem, and I’d like to see those taxed back into re-development.”
But the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Jordan Bateman says deciding which properties to tax though is not always clear.
“There are all sorts of reasons a property falls into disrepair or are not being lived in, death in the family, divorce or travelling.
It’s just not rentable for various economic reasons.
To add another tax on top of that really isn’t going to solve the problem.”
Victoria council is waiting to hear from the province about whether they can tax owners for derelict properties.
And the topic is on the agenda at the Union of B.C. Municipalities’s annual general meeting later this month.