West Vancouver seeks its own vacancy tax

West Vancouver council is again asking the province for the power to hit absentee homeowners with its own speculation and vacancy tax.

The last census showed almost 10 per cent of West Vancouver’s homes are non-owner occupied.

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“West Vancouver, along with some of the larger urban municipalities, is experiencing a housing crisis caused by factors including money laundering, speculation, and foreign investment. This has hollowed out the community and created stratospheric housing prices that are out of sync with local incomes,” Mayor Mary-Ann Booth states in a memo to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association. “West Vancouver is really ‘ground zero’ of the problem, given the 1,700 multimillion-dollar empty homes (affecting local businesses, neighbourhood character, and the crime rate as empty homes are inviting targets for break and enters).”

The median price of a home in West Vancouver is $2.5 million, the memo states, and the rental vacancy rate sits at 1.2 per cent, Booth points out.

Of the $58 million collected from the provincial speculation and vacancy tax in 2018, $6.6 million — almost 11 per cent — was collected from West Vancouver, according to stats provided to the district by the ministry of finance. The City of Vancouver meanwhile, has been able to raise $40 million in revenue with its own empty homes tax.

“West Vancouver has not received a share of the [speculation and vacancy tax] revenue to date. Additional revenue generated by West Vancouver, if it was given the authority to impose its own vacancy tax, could be used to address the housing crisis and other effects of empty homes in the community,” Booth writes.

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