Residential Home Builders Association wants BC tax credit for homeowners’ seismic renovations

WatchThursday's earthquake in California has renewed calls for a tax credit to help homeowners who are looking to prepare for the "Big One"

On Thursday, during the earthquake in southern California, there was a muffled explosion inside a house located on a residential street in Ridgecrest, Calif.

The earthquake was a 6.4 magnitude, the most powerful in 20 years. It also served as a reminder that the west coast is an active earthquake zone.  That’s why Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Home Builders’ Association, is calling for help for homeowners.

“There is a 30 per cent chance of a major earthquake in the next fifty years,” Edge said.

With those odds, the association is calling on the provincial government to help homeowners. It wants the province to launch a renovation tax credit that could help with seismic upgrades in older homes. New homes are already seismically designed.

“The B.C. government has an energy efficiency tax credit in place. Just expand it,” Edge said.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the Property Transfer Tax brought in just under $2 billion to provincial coffers for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. On the issue, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing says a seismic incentive program would require significant policy work.

Blaise McDonald reviews plans for a project his company, MAC Renovations recently completed.

“These are some of the different ways where we, how we tie the foundation to the framing,” McDonald said.

It included extensive seismic work. But few homeowners ask about seismic upgrades when planning work to their houses.

“Definitely influences the buying decision. You know, anytime that people can get some money back it’s just more incentive to take that extra step,” McDonald said.

If the Province of B.C. introduced a tax credit aimed at seismic upgrades, Edge says the timing would likely help many homeowners and their houses.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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