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B.C. government introduces legislation on speculation tax

By Rob Shaw for Vancouver Sun

VICTORIA — B.C.’s New Democratic government dug in its heels on the contentious real estate speculation tax Tuesday, moving forward to bring it into law despite the protests of local mayors and a development community that warned it could cause more affordable housing problems than it will solve.

Finance Minister Carole James introduced enabling legislation for the tax, eight months after it was first announced in February’s provincial budget. It will levy a surcharge on vacant second homes in much of Metro Vancouver and other areas, in an attempt to push owners to either rent out those homes or sell them to boost the housing supply.

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The legislation did not contain an opt-out clause requested by municipal governments, many of which are warning the tax will have the reverse effect and actually discourage development of new housing.

“When you face a major provincial crisis like (affordability), it’s the responsibility of the provincial government to act, not to let municipalities pick and choose whether they want to address affordable housing,” James told reporters.

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