The provincial government has reached an agreement with the B.C. Green Party for its support of the Speculation and Vacancy Tax.
In moving forward with legislation introduced this week intended by the government to address housing affordability in the province, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James says the government will support three amendments to be introduced by Andrew Weaver’s Green party.
On Vancouver Island, the tax would apply to empty homes in Nanaimo, Lantzville and Greater Victoria.
The Green caucus’ first amendment will create annual meetings between the finance minister and the mayors of areas affected to review the tax, dropping a demand to allow those communities to opt out.
The second amendment will target revenues raised by the tax, with all funds directed to affordable housing projects in the impacted regions.
The Greens will also introduce an amendment to permanently set the tax rate for Canadians and permanent residents outside of B.C., and not satellite families, at 0.5 per cent.
When the legislation was introduced, Canadian citizens and permanent residents who don’t live in the province would have paid one per cent on their homes assessed value.
James said in a statement the government strongly supports the first two amendments, but worries the third lessens protections against out-of-province speculative investment.
“We believe it is fair to ask those who do not pay income tax in B.C. to pay their fair share, but in the spirit of compromise we will support this amendment,” James said.
A rate of two per cent would be applied to foreign owners and so-called satellite families, or those who don’t report the majority of their income on Canadian tax returns.
Weaver said his concern was treating all Canadians equally and even though they don’t pay income tax in B.C., they still pay federal taxes that help communities in the province.
“The third amendment was an area of compromise and I am pleased that it will lessen the impact for Canadian homeowners, while keeping other critical provisions of the bill intact,” Weaver said in a statement.