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Earlier this month I was very critical, of the government’s ill thought through attempts to curb speculation in the housing market. In fact, I was entirely unsure as to what outcomes the government was seeking with the introduction of their so-called “speculation tax”. To the government’s credit, the Minister of Finance declared that she was willing to listen to British Columbians and make adjustments to her proposed policies. This was the opening that we were looking for.

Over the last few weeks we worked hard to solicit, listen to, and respond to the concerns of British Columbians about this tax. We brought these concerns directly to the table with the NDP and worked closely with them to identify and offer solutions to many of the unforeseen consequences that had arisen. In particular,

  • We wanted to ensure the tax did not unfairly impact British Columbians, including people with vacation homes, who are not speculating in our market.
  • We wanted to ensure the tax did not apply to rural or vacation areas, where there are many part-time residents and they are significant to the local economy.
  • We wanted to ensure that this tax truly targets speculators – people who park their money in our real estate market as if it’s the stock market – and that it effectively deals with satellite families and offshore money.
  • We wanted to ensure adequate flexibility for rentals, allowing people to avoid the tax by renting their home out part of the year, and stay there the other part of the year.
  • We wanted to ensure that people who can’t rent their place out, through restrictive zoning or strata bylaws, aren’t hit with the tax.
  • We wanted to ensure that the tax actually reduces speculation, and does not provide a revenue windfall for government.

Yesterday Carole James, the Minister of Finance, announced revisions to the proposed speculation tax that will be introduced this fall. While the BC Greens would have taken much more aggressive action focused largely on foreign capital through a New Zealand style offshore buyers ban, as well as targetting speculation through a flipping tax and closing the bare trust loophole on residential sales, the government’s proposed changes go a long way to dealing with a number of concerns with the tax.

Below I reproduce the Media Statement that we released in response to the proposed government changes.


Media Release

B.C. Green Caucus responds to government’s speculation tax changes
For immediate release
March 26, 2018

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, issued the following statement in response to the government’s announced changes to the speculation tax.

“It’s a positive sign that this government is willing to listen to British Columbians and to make adjustments to policies,” said Weaver.

“In a minority government, we have an opportunity to do things differently by collaborating to improve public policy. We worked hard to champion British Columbians’ concerns and bring forth evidence-based solutions to this policy’s shortcomings. We agree with the B.C. NDP that we need to take action to address speculation in our real estate market. However, we have been clear that we needed to see changes to this tax in order to support the forthcoming legislation. In particular, the government’s policy must target speculation and empty homes in our urban centres without undue adverse effects on rural areas and on British Columbians who aren’t speculators.

“These changes go a long way to dealing with our initial concerns with the tax – they make it much more targeted and limit the effects on British Columbians with vacation homes. We look forward to the full details of the legislation to ensure it truly limits unintended consequences. We will continue to advocate for bolder policies to address speculation, including a flipping tax, the closing of the bare trust loophole and a New Zealand-style ban on foreign capital.”

Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands added that he was pleased that many of his constituents’ concerns were addressed.

“I heard from many concerned Gulf Islanders who were worried about how the speculation tax might impact them and we kept pressure on the government to address these issues,” said Olsen.

“I’m glad that the government has recognized that this tax doesn’t make sense for rural areas like the Gulf Islands. The diversity of concerns in my riding demonstrates the need for a nuanced approach to the housing crisis. We have serious housing challenges in the Gulf Islands that need to be addressed, while recognizing that seasonal residents are valuable members of the community who contribute to the local economy. I will continue to work closely with the communities in my riding to bring locally-appropriate solutions to the table.”


Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca


    April 5, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Please explain how you can support a tax which exempts Whistler, Parksville and other places yet includes Sidney!!!!!!

  2. Lesley-
    March 28, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I live in a home on Gabriola and my affordable condo is due to be finished in November in North Vancouver. I cannot sell this property as the rules were changed for new builds. While I wait for the condo to be finished now new rules which will now put me in the position of having to sell this property. This new tax will have the opposite effect, as it will push me out of the market.
    I was born in North Vancouver have a house on Gabriola because a house in North Van I to expensive so I wanted a condo now I will have to sell this, yet cannot because of the prebuilt rules.
    Meanwhile i’m Labelled the 1%. No I worked all my life sometimes two jobs for this. Stop this tax if us British Columbians.