The goal of a vacancy tax would be to encourage condo buildings to be used as primary residences, and penalize absentee owners who do not live in or rent out their units long-term. The City of Victoria argued that the declaration tax could present a good opportunity for condo-run businesses to be moved outside of the residential property tax bracket. (File photo)

Victoria and the province disagree on proposed condo Airbnb tax

Council seeks a meeting with the minister after receiving a dissenting letter

Victoria City Council is requesting a meeting with Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selina Robinson, following a disagreement on the province’s property tax assessment of condos running short-term rental units.

In November 2018, council sent the ministry a letter asking the province to have a split classification system in tandem with its new speculation and vacancy tax declaration for properties running as short-term rental units through applications like Airbnb.

If approved, this kind of assessment change could potentially triple the property taxes on these units.

However, the ministry disagreed with this proposition, citing the difficulty it would take to roll out a split system.

“[T]he City’s proposal would have substantial assessment policy, legislative and tax implications on a provincial basis,” Robinson wrote in her response letter, dated Feb. 12, 2019. “In addition, implementing such a proposal would be very costly, and it would be time consuming for BC Assessment (BCA) to identify the units to which this policy would apply.”

READ MORE: City of Victoria to start charging illegal short-term rental operators

Robinson further stated that as of Nov. 30, 2018, the province granted stratas the right to fine residents up to $1,000 per day for not complying with a strata bylaw limiting or banning short-term rentals.

In a committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, Coun. Ben Isitt motioned to have Mayor Lisa Helps write to Robinson to request a meeting to discuss the different viewpoints on the assessment of commercial short-term rental units.

Coun. Geoff Young, who was a strong advocate of sending the initial letter, noted that more clarification was needed in the disagreement.

ALSO READ: B.C. cities want mandated business licences for short-term rentals

“The ministry’s letter refers to various legal and technical concerns that they have, but she didn’t elaborate on them in detail,” Young said. “This is a file that’s best carried forward by a conversation in order to illicit from her the views of what are the complexities that she sees or her staff sees.”

Isitt further said that not amending this taxation would further spur the housing crisis.

“Ultimately if a condo unit goes from its current discounted value as if it were someone’s home, say at $2,500… to $8,000 per year, that’s a very strong market signal to move that unit back into the housing supply, or to have the operator of that unit price the unit to reflect that taxation,” Isitt said.

Isitt further noted that the current “tax loophole” was giving some people a very unfair advantage in a competitive housing market.

Council voted unanimously to forward the letter to the ministry.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Woman charged in Saanichton stabbing

One man treated for injuries, released from hospital following Friday assault

Saanich’s Red Lion Inn receives council’s blessing for extended liquor hours

Extension comes more than two years after a major fire

Province continues to investigate Saanich’s Horticultural Centre of the Pacific

Investigation stems from May 2 incident that turned Colquitz River ‘chocolate brown’

Avid Victoria cyclist’s legacy bike ride helps fund end-of-life care

2019 Denis Muloin Ride for Palliative Care invites cyclists for May 26 fundraiser

VIDEO: Fun without sun: Hundreds enjoy Family Fest on Victoria Day

Families enjoy activities in Veterans Memorial Park

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read