Sidney might be taking additional actions surrounding the speculation and vacancy tax, the public heard.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said during last week’s council meeting staff are reviewing a technical briefing from the province about the tax. The briefing contains statistics about its effects following its introduction last year.
“I have briefly met with staff on this technical briefing and statistics, and I have asked that staff review that and bring forward the elements of the technical briefing to a future committee of the whole meeting, such that we may consider it as a council, and take actions, if we wish, additionally with regards to the tax,” he said.
This development comes after McNeil-Smith had joined mayors from around the province earlier this month during a day-long meeting during which they received the briefing and discussed the effects of the speculation tax in their respective communities with provincial finance minister Carole James.
McNeil-Smith said James agreed to consider some of those concerns, adding that her government will consider making changes in the fall session of the legislative assembly.
The tax has come into full effect this year after the provincial government announced it during last year’s budget, prompting complaints from several municipalities, including Sidney, one of 39 municipalities where it applies.
The tax with its graduates rates for foreign homeowners (two per cent), Canadian citizens and permanent residents outside of British Columbia (one per cent), and those from British Columbia (0.5 per cent) applies to secondary homes vacant for six months of the year or more in the designated cities of Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Nanaimo, Lantzville, Metro Vancouver and the Capital Regional District around Victoria.
Revenue from the tax totalled $115 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year with the money funding affordable housing projects where the tax applies.
According to publicly available data, 14 Sidney residents paid the tax elsewhere, while 23 B.C. residents paid the tax for residences in Sidney in the 2018 calendar year. A total of 51 properties were subject to the tax with 5,434 exempted. Taxed properties netted a total of $160,000.