More than a dozen businesses along Marine Drive have permanently closed over the past few years. White Rock council wants the Community Charter amended to give cities authority to tax commercial and residential properties that sit vacant long-term. (File photo)

White Rock quest to tax vacant homes going to UBCM

Resolution asking for Community Charter amendment to be considered at September convention

White Rock council’s quest for authority to impose an annual vacancy tax on residential and commercial properties is among resolutions to be considered at the next Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

UBCM president Arjun Singh confirmed in a June 27 letter to council that the resolution will be presented to the membership at the September 2019 convention. The letter was to be received for information during council’s July 8 meeting, after Peace Arch News’ press deadline.

PAN reported in January that council and staff were taking a first look at possible legislation to tax vacant property that is allowed to sit dormant for long periods of time.

Proposed by Coun. Anthony Manning, the idea is modelled on the measure used in Vancouver, which taxes vacant residential properties at one per cent of assessed value – and raised $8 million in 2017.

READ MORE: Five per cent ‘vacancy tax’ proposed for White Rock

READ MORE: Vancouver expects $30 million in first year of empty homes tax

Manning’s proposal – which was unanimously endorsed by council – suggested a tax of five per cent on assessed value on both residential and business properties.

Manning told PAN in January that one aim of the tax is to provide incentive to owners, particularly absentee owners, to lease empty commercial properties that are robbing both the Marine Drive waterfront and the uptown area of vibrancy.

The resolution to be considered at the UBCM notes that White Rock is governed through the Community Charter, “where there is no current authority to implement a Vacancy Tax.”

The city asks that UBCM work with provincial government to amend that authority, “permitting municipalities the authority to impose, by bylaw, an annual vacancy tax on taxable residential and commercial properties, and that the criteria and administrative requirements be similar to those of the Vancouver Charter.”

The UBCM convention is set for Sept. 23-27 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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