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Housing affordability continues to be a serious challenge in Metro Vancouver

Word is starting to come out of Victoria that the Province will move on the housing affordability issue that has become a key political issue in Metro Vancouver and introduce a suite of new policy tools designed to take some of the heat out of the high end of the market. After having no success in trying to brand the issue as a West Point Grey problem or simply a problem of cities not allowing enough supply, the BC Liberals seem ready to take the challenge seriously. At the centre of the proposals, to be announced later today, is a new ‘speculation’ tax on real estate transactions. The tax, similar to the proposal advocated by a group of academic experts from UBC and SFU, would charge a 2.5 percent surcharge on all residential real estate transactions over $500,000.
The new Massey Bridge expected to be the primary benefit from the new tax

However, unlike most calls for any proceeds to be reinvested back into housing (through an ‘Affordability Fund’), the government has identified regional transportation investments as the primary benefactor. In a classic ‘two birds with one stone’ approach, proceeds from the surcharge would be invested into a regional transportation fund with the proposed Massey bridge to be the first in line. Apparently, this is seen as the best way to address speculation and affordability in a way that grows the economy and doesn’t deflate established housing values (a key issue for the government). Readers of this blog may have other opinions.
A detailed proposal is expected to be announced later today.
It seems like a crazy proposal, but I guess its that time of year.!


  1. I thought the UBC, SFU plan was to charge a tax on anyone who owns a property worth more than 500K and does not pay any form of non property taxes, IE income taxes, payroll, etc. So the idea is that that someone who is just using our infrastructure, schooling etc but paying minimally back into our governments or someone has a vacant home. The persons GST and property taxes would not be calculated into this amount. The threshold would be 15K.

  2. A good political move from the Victoria Liberals. They get to look like they’re finally “doing something” about housing prices when they’re actually not. This tax will have zero impact on housing prices. None whatsoever. And they also get to look like they’re doing something about transportation funding when in fact they’re actually doing very little. The amount raised by this tax will not make much of a dent in regional funding needs.
    But this is technically better than nothing, which prior to this is all anyone’s outside the Okanagan or LNG industry has received from them in two years.

        1. Everything? You are so cute. Next month, the people in the province will celebrate a 20 year anniversary since the NDP were last elected (erroneously, with a notably smaller popular vote). Also in May, we will rejoice the 15 years since that same party was voted out in 2001, almost to the point of extinction (they had too few members to even qualify as a fringe party).
          When you get old enough to vote, you should be able to discern the difference between perennial success, and jokester failure. Please desist petty, uninformed political spitting, so this site can return to intelligent urbanism.

  3. Almost had me there until I realized the speculation tax was Gregor’s idea. Christy Socreds taking advice from Vision? I don’t think so.

  4. The perfect April Fools’ Day prank is one where a number of people actually believe it to be true.

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