Report 6 Summary

City of Vancouver, General Manager, Community Services’ Administrative Report, Policy & Regulatory Steps for Reducing Empty Housing, July 2016

The CoV has determined that there is a social crisis, specifically a housing crisis, in the City of Vancouver. To the extent that this is the case, all of society should deal with it - we should all contribute to finding and implementing a solution.  The CoV, however, intends to pursue a course of action where only one small group, the owners of “residential property used for purposes other than continuous residential occupancy” will bear the burden of implementing social policy. Clearly opportunistic, such a policy would naturally have support from those not targeted by the tax, those who are being told that they can get something for nothing, who are being told that the solution lies in taxing someone else to pay for what we want, but most certainly not taxing us. 

This effective appropriation of private property in an attempt to implement social policy is neither equitable nor ethical, particularly so since no one has ever been told that society expects property to be occupied. Until every purchaser, prior to closing on a purchase, receives a disclosure statement, until every property owner receives notice prior to paying regular property taxes, that tells them that society requires that the property be occupied, it is just a con game.

Not only has the CoV not told people what is expected of them with respect to occupancy, even though it has had abundant opportunity to do so, it does not even know what it expects, as it has no consistent specific legal definition of “continuous residential occupancy”. Further, it has not shown that it can legally do something indirectly, to effectively discriminate on the basis of occupancy, which it cannot do directly. It also has not demonstrated that it has the power to unilaterally designate a property as a business. It has not provided any measure of the magnitude of the costs involved, nor of the timing and nature of the possible impacts.

The CoV has not done enough research, nor provided sufficient evidence, for it to either issue an ultimation demanding support from the Provincial Government by August 1st or to pursue taxation on its own. 

To view full report click here.