Saanich Municipal Hall standalone May 2021 (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich council rejects call for separate tax rate for single-family homes

Coun. Zac de Vries said motion was aimed at reducing climate impact

A motion that would have led to a higher tax rate for owners of single-family homes in Saanich was narrowly defeated Monday night.

Coun. Zac de Vries brought forward a motion to ask the Union of B.C. Municipalities to request the province amend the BC Assessment Act to allow for the residential classification to be split into various sub-categories. The motion was defeated in a 5-4 vote May 31.

“It called for a legislative change to allow for greater flexibility,” said de Vries.

He said the motion sought to incentivize developments that are aligned with climate action goals and long-term financial feasibility by precisely defining which types of homeowners should be paying higher taxes.

ALSO READ: Saanich councillor wants to tie climate impact of single-family homes to municipal tax rates

“What became evident in the discussion was that some councillors were not fully opposed, but they just felt they didn’t know enough to feel fully comfortable supporting the motion at this time,” said de Vries, who sees an opportunity to come back with more information about the proposal in the near future.

De Vries said that the assumption that this is about higher taxes is wrong. “This is about long-term financial sustainability, and when we break it down it’s just about more accurately assigning a mill rate and attributing it to different property classes.”

Mayor Fred Haynes did not support the proposal and said that it’s very important to tread lightly when it comes to increasing taxes since many residents are already under a lot of financial and mental stress.

Haynes emphasized that a lot of work has been put into minimizing mental stress for Saanich residents by reducing taxes in other areas.

ALSO READ: Saanich adopts 5.76% property tax hike for 2021

“There are 25,000 single-family homes, we get 77 per cent of our taxes from these residences. I’m more inclined to diversify our tax base by having economic development and commercial developments.”


 

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