John Horgan promises housing tax changes ‘that will affect demand’ in February budget

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NDP government to review Liberal housing programs
WATCH: NDP government to review Liberal housing programs (Aug., 2017) – Aug 1, 2017

It’s been nearly six months since the NDP took power in B.C., and no file — except perhaps the Site C dam — has placed more pressure on them than housing has.

The party has been vague on its plans to address housing affordability, saying only that it will tackle the issue in its February budget.

On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan confirmed to CKNW’s Jon McComb that the NDP will tweak tax rules to target demand as part of its strategy.

“We are going to make tax changes that will affect demand in the February budget,” Horgan said.

LISTEN: Horgan talks Site C and housing plans

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In its election platform, the NDP pledged to bring in a two-per-cent absentee speculators tax to target property owners with empty homes, and to snip “the loopholes that let speculators dodge taxes and hide their identities.”

While Horgan did not confirm that the tax would come in February, he suggested that speculators were squarely in the party’s crosshairs.

“We’ve got to stop the speculation, we’re going to do that to the best of our ability in February,” he said. “The Liberals made a ham-fisted effort with loopholes the size you could drive a Mack truck through.”

READ MORE: BC NDP’s ‘comprehensive’ housing strategy not coming until February

In previous conversations, the NDP only acknowledged that it was considering a suite of tax changes and that many option were on the table.

Horgan also defended the pace of his government’s action on housing.

“The public is also mature and responsible enough to know there is not an easy solution to this question,” Horgan said.

READ MORE: Province to spend $66M on 600 Vancouver modular housing units

“You know the complexity of the housing market. We’ve just discovered recently that people have been laundering hockey bags full of money through our casinos.

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“We have a serious speculation and money laundering problem in British Columbia, and I can’t wave a magic wand and fix that overnight.”

Horgan said the NDP also wants to work with municipalities and developers to create more two and three-bedroom housing that’s suitable for families.

The NDP has already implemented several policies targeting housing issues, including $66 million for modular housing in Vancouver, and closing loopholes in tenancy regulations that allowed landlords to jack up rents by double digits.

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