The B.C. government is expanding the province’s speculation tax to include Squamish and Duncan but it will not include the resort community of Whistler.
The changes also include a speculation and vacancy tax in North Cowichan, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan and Lions Bay.
The changes will start in 2023.
“People in these communities have been vocal about the pressures they are feeling. The expansion will help prevent speculation of moving from one place to another in a region,” BC Finance Minister Selina Robinson said.
“Over 99 per cent of British Columbians are exempt. The best way to avoid the tax is to use a home as a home.”
A speculation tax was introduced in British Columbia in 2018 in an attempt to push homeowners into either renting or selling secondary properties.
The tax is currently in place in Metro Vancouver, the Capital Regional District, Kelowna and Nanaimo.
The province claims the tax led to property investors freeing up an estimated 20,000 rental homes for British Columbians.
Whistler and other resort-based communities have been exempted, even though there are rental pressures in many of those communities as well.
Right now the province is not considering moving to a province-wide speculation tax.
“When we started out we focused on major urban centres. We know there are unique challenges for resort communities and there are other tools to address those concerns. We have different communities with different needs,” Robinson said.
“We need to monitor to see how it is working.”
Currently, every B.C. homeowner must complete a declaration as to whether they’ve lived in their home for at least six months.
The tax is intended to identify foreign buyers but has also captured some British Columbians with vacation homes.
“When we introduced the speculation tax it was the first of its kind in Canada. We applied it to urban regions with vacancy rates near zero. This tax is working as designed,” Robinson said.
“The tax turned thousands of units into homes and reduced speculation. We promised we would continue to listen to housing experts.”
BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon is opposed to the Speculation Tax, saying it does not actually target housing speculators.