Re: your Housing shortage editorial, which begins: “There’s not enough housing in the Cowichan Valley.”
Pressures on available housing in the Valley have indeed increased. The CVRD notes this in their Regional Housing Needs Assessment.
Unfortunately, the report doesn’t dig very deep on why there are pressures, or offer much in the way of analysis of how to address these pressures. Thankfully, the tools to address these housing pressures exist, they simply appear to have been left in the box where Cowichan is concerned when the province applied them.
Here are some questions for your readers: what is the role of multiple home ownership in aggravating the situation? What is the role of the speculation and vacancy tax in neighbouring jurisdictions in aggravating the situation in the Cowichan region?
In posing these questions, I refer to the apparent mistake on the part of the provincial government in sandwiching the Cowichan Valley between two “taxable regions” while failing to designate the Cowichan Valley equivalently, which, I argue, is creating the “external impacts” referenced in the CVRD document above, based on the differential application of taxes designed to reduce real estate speculation, and to address housing shortages. I am speaking specifically of the Speculation and Vacancy taxes that provincial former minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, now minister of Finance, Selina Robinson, and her government have rolled out in the past few years.
These taxes do not apply to 99 per cent of British Columbians, but rather only apply to those who own secondary homes and are vacant or non-resident. The revenue derived from taxing these homes (two per cent of assessed value annually) is redistributed in the community from which it is collected — fundig housing projects in those communities, and thereby providing a means for wealthy secondary home owners, who effectively remove housing stock from the local market, to support the creation of new homes in the local housing market.
There is a further disincentive that is arguably having more significant impacts on Valley real estate: the lack of a foreign buyer’s tax. Owing to the same oversight, this tax, known as the additional transfer tax, does not apply to properties in the Cowichan Valley either. At 20 per cent of the purchase price of a property, applied at the point of property transfer, you can see how attractive our properties are relative to purchasing land or homes in Lantzville, Nanaimo, or the CRD…effectively discounted by $200,000 on every million dollars of value. As this is the case, it is no wonder that tales of homes selling for $80 to $90 thousand above list prices are currenty common. Smart speculative foreign buyers are still getting a discount of over 10 per cent on every purchase — driving up prices and development in our own neighbourhoods.
DEMAND that the provincial government levels the playing field and includes Cowichan among the other taxable regions, which include Kelowna, the whole of the Fraser Valley from Metro Vancouver to Chilliwack and the South Island — except for us! Our children’s ability to afford homes, and our ALR farmland’s future productivity is at stake.
Send an email to your local MLA here: email@example.com
Write Minister Selina Robinson here: FIN.Minister@gov.bc.ca