Eight years have gone by since then-mayoral wannabe Gregor Robertson acknowledged the issue of what he said was 18,000 vacant homes in Vancouver and said he would create a speculator tax to deal with them.
That was a promise during an internal party debate on June 5, 2008 to select the mayoral candidate for Vision Vancouver. He won that selection, and then was elected in 2008 and reelected in 2011 and 2014.
In a mayoral debate seeking reelection in 2011 he said he would not introduce such a tax. Why change his tune then? And now, in 2016, people may wish to ask what took him so long to take action on his original promise, as it seems that eight precious years have been lost in dealing with this issue.
Tomorrow, staff are set to report back to a City Council meeting on “Policy and Regulatory Steps for Reducing Empty Housing.” (Download PDF.) Today, media are reporting that the provincial government has said it will cooperate with the City of Vancouver to look at options. This is after the Mayor said he would push the provincial government to respond on an empty homes tax by August 1, and if no reply by then, the City would take action on its own.
Below is an excerpt of a The Province article of June 6, 2008.
City needs ‘speculator tax’ to free up housing
Empty homes in Vancouver being held by speculators should be subject to an extra tax, says a Vision Vancouver mayoral wannabe. Empty homes in Vancouver being held by speculators should be subject to an extra tax, says a Vision Vancouver mayoral wannabe.
“What I will work to implement as mayor is a speculator tax,” Gregor Robertson said last night during a debate with other Vision candidates, independent park board member Allan De Genova and current Vision Coun. Raymond Louie.
“Basically, the investors that are holding all these vacant homes, and there’s well over 18,000 estimated by housing at city hall, we need to have a tax, effectively a business-tax rate applied to empty homes.” He said many of the larger condominium projects in the city are bought up by speculators and left empty in a city with little affordable housing.
The Vancouver-Fairview MLA said such a tax would encourage speculators “to rent their places out and free up a lot more affordable housing.”
.. Vision members will pick their candidates on June 15 [2008, for the November 2008 civic election].