WATCH: Nanaimo’s mayor is calling B.C.’s speculation tax unfair. He wants an exemption like the one given to other municipalities around his city including Qualicum Beach and Parksville. But he is first asking for residents feedback so that he’ll have lots of information when he makes his request. Kendall Hanson reports.
Jason Sugden is feeling the burden of the housing crisis. He just moved into a duplex, in central Nanaimo, after the last place he was renting sold.
He’s now paying an extra $745 per month, before utilities, in a market where affordable housing is tough to find.
“It’s impossible right now,” said Sugden. “We were kind of lucky to find something in the price range that we did but it’s still almost too high to afford.”
In this year’s budget, the B.C. government implemented measures and taxes to cause more housing to become available ? Sugden doesn’t believe it will work.
“I don’t think it’s going to do anything,” said Sugden. “People look at these taxes as a cost of doing business and I think all that’s going to do is just drive the rent prices higher to cover the margins.”
It’s one of the fears of Nanaimo’s mayor.
He’s asking for feedback from the city’s residents before asking the B.C. government for an exemption from the speculation tax.
“It puts us at a significant disadvantage based on what I’m learning with respect to investment,” said Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay. “People will not invest here if they are facing a tax that they consider to be a significant irritant to investment.”
The mayor is not convinced new taxes on people who have empty homes would work.
He says vacation rentals are also proving to be part of the problem.
“That’s good clean housing that could be used to house a family or individuals that’s now out of the market,” said McKay. “We need to look at making things fairer for both the landlords and the tenants to try and draw that inventory back into the marketplace.”
Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog says his government recently exempted the Regional District of Nanaimo from the speculator’s tax, which includes Parksville, and more changes could be on the way.
“The ministers indicated it wouldn’t happen until the fall,” said Krog. “And that obviously gives the government a lot of time to carefully consider the full implications of the tax and what impact it might have on the market that it’s designated for.”
Hundreds of rental units are poised to come onto the market in Nanaimo.
An increased supply that renters such as Sugden hope will also make living in the city more affordable.