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Vancouver mayor aims to increase empty homes tax to fund affordable housing

Decision to triple the empty homes tax rate in 2020 has brought in about $32 million
Nearly 8,500 homes were declared vacant or underused in Vancouver after the submission deadline passed for the debut of the city’s empty homes tax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver’s mayor has announced a plan to boost the empty homes tax rate to five per cent and double its compliance audits in an effort to provide more affordable housing.

Kennedy Stewart says his decision to triple the empty homes tax rate in 2020 has brought in about $32 million for affordable housing and helped “return” more than 4,000 homes to locals.

Preliminary figures released this week by the city show a decline in vacant properties and a doubling of revenue on declared properties after the tax rate was increased to three per cent by the city.

However, Stewart says there are still hundreds of vacant homes and thousands of others claiming exemptions, so more still needs to be done.

The mayor’s latest motion will be debated at council meetings near the end of the month.

Stewart says he expects unanimous support from council as it is an “important step” in tackling the city’s housing affordability crisis.

—The Canadian Press

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