Public should have a say on Empty Homes Tax revenue, says Mayor

April 12, 2018 (Vancouver, B.C) - Mayor Gregor Robertson has put forward a motion to City Council next week that directs City staff to seek feedback from Vancouver residents on which affordable housing projects or initiatives they would like to see funded through the net proceeds raised by the Empty Homes Tax.

“Vancouver is the first city in North America to bring in a tax on empty homes, and we should hear directly from Vancouver residents on how they’d like to see the money spent on affordable housing projects,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Our main goal is to make sure that people who want to put down roots here in our city have secure and affordable housing options.”

The motion asks staff to consult with the public on the allocation of Empty Homes Tax revenue, prior to a report coming back to Council with recommendations. Under the City’s bylaw, revenue from the tax is to go towards affordable housing initiatives.

“There are lots of different ways the Empty Homes Tax revenue could be allocated,” said the Mayor. “We could keep our winter shelters open longer. It could increase the funds for the rent bank. It could go towards buying new land for affordable housing. I’m sure people have lots of opinions on how the revenue gets allocated, which is why I want to make sure the public has an opportunity to weigh in before Council makes a decision.”

Approved by Council in 2016 and implemented in 2017, the first year of the Empty Homes Tax saw a high rate of compliance with over 98 per cent of Vancouver homeowners submitting their declarations.

Based on the declarations submitted, a total of 8,481 homes were declared or deemed to be unoccupied, underutilized, or exempt for more than 180 days in 2017.

The deadline for homeowners to pay the Empty Homes Tax is April 16, 2018.

To learn more about the Empty Homes Tax and for updates on the public engagement process, please visit www.vancouver.ca/empty-homes-tax