The province announced on Wednesday that several new communities will soon come under the scrutiny of the speculation and vacancy tax, expanding the existing list of 46 municipalities, including those in the Metro Vancouver and Capital regional districts.
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon emphasized the positive impact of the tax, stating, “It has been making a difference in these communities and we have to keep going.”
In the upcoming year, the province plans to include 13 additional municipalities, eight of which are situated in the Okanagan and Southern Interior, such as Penticton, Vernon, and Kamloops. Five communities on Vancouver Island, including Courtenay, Qualicum Beach, and Parksville, will also be subject to the tax.
Finance Minister Katrine Conroy stressed the importance of addressing the issue of empty homes being used as speculative investments, saying, “Homes shouldn’t be left empty, and they shouldn't be used as investments for speculators.”
Despite the overall positive reception, not all communities were pleased with the new inclusions. Penticton’s mayor, Julius Bloomfield, expressed disappointment in an online statement, stating, “It is extremely disappointing that this action has been taken with zero consultation.”
The statement raised concerns about the simultaneous introduction of changes to short-term rental regulations and the potential unintended consequences for the local economy.
Courtenay’s mayor, Bob Wells, on the other hand, welcomed the inclusion of his community, citing a 3.1 per cent vacancy rate and describing the housing situation as "pretty dire." He expressed contentment with the decision, as Courtenay had actively pushed to be included.
Property owners in the newly added communities will be required to declare in 2025 how their properties were utilized in 2024, indicating a continued effort to monitor and address housing challenges.