‘A relic’: Critics call for changes to B.C.’s homeowner grant

Click to play video: 'Calls to rethink the B.C. Homeowners Grant'
Calls to rethink the B.C. Homeowners Grant
A number of experts are calling for a rethink of the B.C. Homeowners Grant to better reflect the current reality of the housing market. Richard Zussman reports. – Jan 3, 2024

With B.C. assessments in the mail, there are growing calls to update the home owner grant criteria.

The home owner grant threshold this year is $2.15 million, which covers 92 per cent of homes in B.C. But some critics told Global News the grant program needs an update to better reflect regional real estate prices and should be income tested, like the provincial renters credit program.

“The home owner grant was introduced in 1957 by the (William Andrew Cecil “W. A. C.”) Bennett government to encourage people to buy homes,” real estate consultant Michael Geller said. “We don’t need to encourage people to buy homes these days. We just need to help them be able to afford to save the down payment so they can buy homes. So if anything, I’d rather see money being given to renters or to those who are on social assistance.”

Click to play video: 'Consumer Matters: Efforts to ‘go green’ frustrating for some consumers'
Consumer Matters: Efforts to ‘go green’ frustrating for some consumers

Simon Fraser University professor and housing expert, Andy Yan, also described the program as a “relic.”

Story continues below advertisement

However, he said rather than taking away the grant, the province could look at setting up something like a renters credit or benefit.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“I think another idea is to have the homeowner grant by far more means adjusted or means-tested that I think that this is really, I think, an opportunity to rethink a policy that has been with us for a long time to kind of reflect the kind of changes that has occurred in the province of British Columbia since 1957.”

Yan said a renters rebate would allow for a level of equity between those who rent and those who own.

“The interesting thing about the rent, about the home owner grant is taking the data and information you have from income taxes (and) having a means test or having it adjusted towards incomes,” he added.

The 2024 home owner grant is $570 for homes in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Capital Regional Districts.

It is $770 for the rest of the province.

The Ministry of Finance told Global News on Wednesday there are no current plans to change the grant program.

Sponsored content