(1) 250.472.8528
andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

Media Release

Government’s release of housing data nothing more than a photo op

Media Statement: July 7th, 2016
Weaver Criticizes Government’s Laughably Incomplete Housing Data
For Immediate Release

Victoria B.C. – “The BC Government has already allowed the housing market to become a crisis, and now they are sitting on their powder keg holding press conferences based on 19 days worth of data,” said Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and Leader of the B.C. Green Party. “They have dropped the ball on this file — completely dropped the ball.”

“19 days worth of data is completely meaningless. This would be like me arguing that since the Canucks didn’t play any games between June 10 and the 29th, Vancouver doesn’t have a hockey team. It’s just laughable.

“Despite promises made in the 2016 budget, the government has failed to deliver any data on the occurrence and impact of beneficial ownership changes in bare trust owned properties. I have been asking for the data for three years now.

“When properties are registered in bare trusts and beneficial ownership is flipped there is no change in title at the Land Title Office. When there is no change of title there is no property transfer tax paid and no data collected by the BC government.

“The minister said our province has seen higher rates of house flipping in the past, but that data is based on registered sales only. There are a lot of houses out there that are flipping through changes in beneficial ownership, and those people are not paying property transfer tax.”

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Media contact:

Mat Wright
Press Secretary – Andrew Weaver MLA
Email: Mat.wright@leg.bc.ca
Cell: 250 216 3382
Twitter: @MatVic

Backgrounder

At present, anyone other than a first-time or new-home (< $750,000) buyer who buys a house must pay property transfer tax upon transfer of title at the Land Title Office. The tax owed is calculated as 1% of the first $200,000, 2% on the amount greater than $200,000 and less than $2,000,000 and 3% on the portion above $2,000,000.

But there is a glaring loophole that is being exploited more and more frequently by wealthy individuals and corporations. That loophole involves having the property held in what is known as a “bare trust”.

A bare trust is a legal entity that allows for the separation of beneficial and legal ownership. The beneficial owner of a property is the person or persons who make all the decisions concerning such things as rent, repairs, management, sale etc.; they are also the person or persons who receive all the revenue from and arrange financing for the property. The trustee of the bare trust has no substantive decision-making capacity as they simply act upon the instructions of the beneficial owner. Typically the trustee is a corporation that has no other purpose but to act as a trustee for the bare trust and for which the beneficial owner owns all the shares.

Suppose you own a $10,000,000 home that you want to dispose of. If you simply transferred title, like most of us do when we sell a home, the purchaser would have to pay $278,000 in property transfer tax.

But if instead the property is in a bare trust where the trustee is a company, then you will pay no tax. All you have to do is sell your shares in the company for 1$ (the company has no assets anyway), and sell the “beneficial ownership” rights of the property to a third party via a “bare trust agreement” which is not registered at the Land Title Office.  Since no change in title occurs, no tax is paid.

Ontario has a similar property transfer tax system in place but they have plugged the loophole. They apply the property transfer tax upon change in beneficial ownership, not just change in the title registered as the Land Title Office. This could and should be done in British Columbia to ensure everyone is treated fairly.

Responding to government inaction on campsite booking system

Media Statement: July 5th, 2016
Weaver responds to government inaction on campsite booking system
For immediate release

Victoria B.C. – Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head, today responded to the provincial government’s encouragement of a campground booking system that excludes British Columbians from accessing public campgrounds and allows private for-profit companies to compete with B.C. families.
“In a new practice welcomed by the B.C. Liberals, B.C. residents are being told they have to pay more to compete with companies who book provincial campsites in bulk and resell them at double the price,” says Andrew Weaver.

“It seems like the B.C. government has lost sight of the public purpose of our parks and campgrounds. Our provincial campsites are not products to be sold, they belong to the people of B.C.

Government agencies have been entrusted by the public to manage our parks as a collective good so they can be preserved and maintained into the future. Instead they are managing them as if they were a nothing more than a commodity.

The public is the owner, not the customer, and the current system is excluding B.C. families from accessing their parks.

The reservation system should give British Columbians priority, either by allocating enough resident – specific sites to meet local demand or by staggering booking openings so British Columbians have first shot at reserving a spot.”

 
Media contact:
Mat Wright
Press Secretary – Andrew Weaver MLA
Cell: 250 216 3382
Mat.wright@leg.bc.ca
Twitter: @MatVic

Parliament Buildings
Room 027C
Victoria BC V8V 1X4

Responding to Pacific Coast Climate Leadership Action Plan Update

Today, in San Francisco representatives from California, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia signed the already announced Pacific North America Climate Leadership Agreement and Action Plan. The press conference, oozing with self-congratulation and political rhetoric from our Minister of Environment, can be viewed online. Our Minister of Environment’s comments were, in my view, embarrassing. In her remarks the Minister continued to try and take credit for the Campbell administration’s past climate leadership. And the accompanying press release states:

We will build on momentum gained from the Paris agreement by not only continuing to reduce emissions at home, but also by helping other countries transition away from dirty fossil fuels.

For those needing a translation this means “we will continue our desperate attempt to land a hypothetical LNG industry and in so doing ignore the words of more than 90 international scientists who point out that this makes no sense from a greenhouse gas reduction perspective.” Climate policy, of course, gets in the way of the LNG pipedream. And so while California introduces Cap and Trade legislation, BC repeals our legislation. Here’s what climate leadership looks like under Today’s BC Liberals (who are in my humble opinion nothing more than yesterday’s Harper Tories):

  1. The Clean Energy Act was amended to exclude emissions from liquefaction in LNG industry;
  2. The Pacific Carbon Trust shut down;
  3. Carbon tax increase stops;
  4. Cap and Trade enabling legislation (designed to bring big point source emitters in with California) has been repealed;
  5. We have a new Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act that introduces an “emissions intensity” framework straight out of Alberta’s policy;
  6. The LiveSmart BC program has essentially shut down;
  7. Emissions have gone up year after year.

Below is the media statement I released today. The banner above says it all.


Media Statement


Media Statement: June 1st, 2016
Weaver Responds to Pacific Coast Climate Leadership Action Plan Update
For Immediate Release
 
Victoria B.C. – “The B.C. Liberals are in no position to claim climate leadership. While they reaffirmed their commitment to the PCC action plan today, their inaction over the last three years indicates that they clearly do not take the agreement seriously,” Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and Leader of the B.C. Green Party, said of the 2016 Pacific Coast Climate Leadership Action Plan signing in San Francisco.

The Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) is a partnership between California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, who signed a non-binding climate and energy action plan in 2013. Today’s renewed commitment is said to update their previous agreement with increasingly bold goals that reflect the need for decisive climate action.

“At today’s signing Mary Polak suggested that there are not a lot of places to look to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions in B.C. because we already have the lowest rate in the country – she is false on both accounts. 40% of our household GHG emissions come from transportation, a sector with great emission-reducing potential, and Quebec is the province with the lowest per capita emissions in Canada.”

“These are the same talking points we heard in 2013. As other provinces are stepping up and getting more ambitious, the B.C. Liberals seems content to coast as we fall behind. On top of that, if the LNG sector expanded the way the government has promised our GHG emissions would skyrocket and there is no guarantee it would result in reductions anywhere else.”

“Addressing climate changes requires direct action, not more promises and photo ops.”

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Media Contact
Mat Wright
Press Secretary
Email: Mat.wright@leg.bc.ca
Cell: 250 216 3382

End of Spring Session Re-Cap

Media Release: May 18, 2016
Andrew Weaver – End of Session Recap
For Immediate Release

Victoria B.C. – Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head has shown that BC politics needs BC Green voices.

“The past few months have shown that the B.C. Green Party can get things done,” says Weaver. “We are willing to work with whoever is in government to advance sound policy that benefits all British Columbians.”

Over the past four months the provincial government has adopted a number of ideas the BC Green Party Leader brought forward. Most significantly, the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policies Act – the only private member’s bill passed by a government in decades. The government has also adopted his suggestions to close property tax loopholes and gather information on Vancouver’s housing market.

“I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that British Columbia needs more BC green voices in its legislature,” said Weaver. “There are issues that both the BC Liberals and the BC NDP would never discuss were it not for my office bringing them up. I do not think there would be any significant opposition to LNG, nor a bill protecting students in universities, were it not for the BC Greens.”

“As we move towards the 2017 election, the question I think British Columbians will be asking themselves is which party is getting things done? The BC Greens have demonstrated that they will work hard in the best interests of B.C. as a whole. We will leave politics behind when there are opportunities to find solutions and common ground. This is the type of leadership we need in British Columbia.”

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Media Contact
Mat Wright – Press Secretary, Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca

Responding to Auditor General’s Report on Compliance & Enforcement of the Mining Sector

Media Statement, May 3rd, 2016
Andrew Weaver responds to Auditor General’s Report on Compliance & Enforcement of the Mining Sector
For Immediate Release

Victoria B.C. – Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and Leader of the BC Green Party made the following statement in response to the release of the Office of the Auditor General audit report “An Audit of Compliance & Enforcement of the Mining Sector”:

Professional Reliance and Captured Regulator:

“This report provides further evidence that the government has got the balance wrong between protecting the interests of British Columbians and advancing the interests of corporations,” said Weaver. “That the Auditor General would suggest that a Ministry within the government is at risk of regulatory capture is very concerning.”

“It’s hypocritical and frankly paradoxical for the government to dismiss the Auditor General’s concerns that we have become too reliant on experts hired by companies to provide regulatory oversight. On the one hand the government says that qualified professionals have played a role in mining for decades; on the other hand the government also notes that the status quo cannot continue,” said Weaver. “Instead of trying to have it both ways they should be asking the very serious question of whether sufficiently independent reviews, with the resources to the job correctly, are actually taking place. I would suggest they are not.”

Permitting:

The report also noted issues regarding permitting and enforcement under the Ministry of Environment including lack of coordination between environment and mine compliance officials, and ‘enforceable’ language in actual permits.

“This report emphasizes the need for a review of both Ministry of Energy and Mines and Ministry of Environment permitting processes and enforcement measures.” said Weaver “There is a huge gap in public trust between government and permit holders as is highlighted now in the on-going dispute over the Shawnigan Lake contaminated soil dump site. This issue has forced residents and local governments to use the court system to get results from government. It is imperative that the Auditor General’s recommendations are adopted immediately to begin to repair this relationship.”

Media Contact
Mat Wright – Press Secretary Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca