January 21, 2017 12:40 am
Updated: January 21, 2017 1:34 am

Victoria council postpones decision on foreign buyer tax in Capital Region

Watch: There’s a call for the foreign buyer’s tax be applied to homes in the Capital Region, but not everyone is buying it. Neetu Garcha reports.

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A Victoria realtor is sounding the alarm on a local councilor’s idea of expanding the 15 per cent foreign buyers tax introduced in Metro Vancouver last summer, in the Capital Region.

“People move here for a reason and they’re not moving here for investment or to make money… we’re seeing a lot more cases of families wanting to move here to enjoy what we have,” real estate agent Tony Joe said.

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Victoria councilor Ben Isitt is behind the motion which includes a section about the province giving municipalities power to tax vacant homes.

The average price of a single family home in Metro Vancouver increased by 1.8 per cent last month over December 2015 but the average price in Victoria increased by 23.6 per cent.

That’s why Isitt, and another councilor, Jeremy Loveday, are backing the idea.

But neither of them made themselves available to comment on the motion, which isn’t getting a lot of support from the community.

“There are a number of ways to make housing affordable without going to these tax extremes that may hurt people,” Esquimalt Mayor and Capital Regional District Board Chair, Barbara Desjardins said.

Nearly six months in and the foreign buyers tax in Metro Vancouver has accomplished what the provincial government set out to do, which is cool an overheated market.

But is it too soon to tell the real impact?

“I think before we even consider going down that path, a lot more analysis has to be done,” Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen said.

In an email statement the province said it is in a position to extend the tax to other parts of B.C., adding “so far, it doesn’t appear that the additional property transfer tax is causing a significant shift in foreign investment to outlying regions, such as the Capital Regional District. In fact, foreign investment in the CRD decreased in November compared to October.”

“All of our colleagues in Vancouver do state that the market was cooling and if anything what’s happened is the buyers have not gone away, they’re just simply taking a wait and see sort of position,” Joe said.

Victoria city council has postponed consideration of the motion for three months.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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