The richer the neighbourhood, the more homes are empty, Vancouver tax report finds
The Vancouver neighbourhood with the highest percentage of empty homes also happens to be one of the city’s wealthiest and area with the city’s largest homes.
Eight percent of residential buildings in Shaughnessy are sitting empty, according to the City of Vancouver’s first comprehensive update on its new Empty Homes Tax.
Meanwhile, more “affordable” areas on the city’s east side mostly have vacancy rates of half that.
The percentage of homes left empty in every neighbourhood east of Main Street is three percent, (with the exemption of Strathcona, where it’s four percent, and Sunset, where it’s two percent).
Back on Vancouver’s West Side, the vacancy rate stands at five percent in West Point Grey, Dunbar Southlands, Arbutus Ridge, Kerrisdale, and Marpole. In Oakridge, it’s six percent.
In November 2016, former mayor Gregor Robertson’s Vision Vancouver administration proposed a one-percent tax on homes left unoccupied. Over the following year, there was a lot of jostling and debate about what exactly constitutes an empty home and who should be eligible for exemptions from the tax. The bylaws took effect last January.
Now the city has released its first annual report on the tax. It states that roughly 99 percent of homeowners completed a mandatory survey of whether or not properties are occupied.
“Out of the total 186,043 properties, 178,120 were occupied, 5,385 were exempt and 2,538 were vacant,” reads a November 29 media release.CITY OF VANCOUVER
It’s estimated there that Vancouver will collect $38 million during the tax’s first year.
“The Empty Homes Tax (also known as the Vacancy Tax) was developed to help relieve pressure on Vancouver’s rental housing market, by returning empty or under-utilized properties to the long-term rental market,” the release reads. “Revenue generated by the tax is required to be used for affordable housing initiatives in Vancouver.”
Travis Lupick is a journalist based in Vancouver and the author of Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City's Struggle with Addiction. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.