Victoria City Council Votes NO to a Foreign Buyers Tax

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On April 27th, Victoria city council voted NO to extending the 15% foreign buyers tax to Greater Victoria. The motion to extend the tax failed in a 4-4 tie.

What this means is that with two of the other hottest markets in the country -- Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver -- now covered by the tax, Greater Victoria risks attracting even more demand from non-resident speculators.  

The good news: we’ve made a significant step forward in terms of meaningful, impactful engagement. As we pushed for the tax to be extended, we drew new people into our network, and in a little over 24 hours had 284 signatures on our petition! We built up our presence and personal relationships in the community, including with Victoria’s mayor and city council members.

Those are huge wins and we can’t thank you enough for your participation!

Why did the vote fail, even though council voted in favour just last week?
As far as we can tell the vote lost on the notion that extending the tax to Victoria would send a signal that our city isn't welcoming to newcomers. You can read more about the voting record and rationale below.

We respect and acknowledge that sensitivity shown by councillors, but the tax clearly targets those who simply want to park money in our community, and clearly exempts those who want to work and make their principle home here.

The bad news: The bottom line is we’ve just put a giant target on our city. The Greater Vancouver, Toronto and Victoria regions have the three hottest housing markets in the whole country. Two of those jurisdictions now have a 15% tax on non-resident speculators, and we do not.

Without a financial disincentive to park global capital in local housing, we’ve arguably erected a giant 15% OFF SALE sign.

There are very few opportunities to influence demand from the municipal level and that’s why we will continue to mobilize on this issue across the region, with more opportunities coming soon.

For now? If you’re disappointed with Victoria city council, write them a quick note and let them know how you feel.

Email council now 

If you haven’t signed the petition yet, now is more important than ever! It only takes a second:

Sign your name now 

Please share the petition on Facebook! We’ve been getting a lot of traction on the issue through social media and need to keep it up:

Share on Facebook 


How Council Voted 


FOR
bringing the 15% foreign buyers tax to Victoria:

  • Mayor Lisa Helps
  • Councillor Ben Isitt 
  • Councillor Jeremy Loveday 
  • Councillor Pamela Madoff

AGAINST:

  • Councillor Geoff Young
  • Councillor Margaret Lucas
  • Councillor Chris Coleman
  • Councillor Marianne Alto

Councillor Thornton-Joe appropriately recused herself from the vote because her cousin (Tony Joe) is the President of the Asian Real Estate Association of America's Vancouver Chapter. Both Mr. Joe and Mike Nugent with the Victoria Real Estate Board spoke in opposition to taxing foreign buyers.

Why did those four councillors vote against the motion?

As far we could tell, their reasons were:

  • Uncertainty about the data/not sure foreign buyers are impacting affordability in our region
  • A belief the tax wouldn’t have a significant impact/wasn’t ‘the answer’ 
  • A belief the tax would send a signal that Victoria wasn’t welcoming/tolerant of newcomers

A video of the April 27th council meeting is now up on the City’s website, if you’d like to watch for yourself. The debate on the foreign buyers tax starts at 4:16:00. [1] 

Presentations by Gen Squeezers can be found at:

  • Emma Parston - 3:40:06 hours / 220:05 minutes in the video
  • Charlie Ursell - 3:44:08 hours / 224:13 minutes in the video
  • Lyndsey Easton - 3:48:29 hours / 228:30 minutes in the video
  • Eric Swanson - 3:52:22 hours / 232:28 minutes in the video
  • Brittany Forbes - 4:02:35 hours / 242:41 minutes in the video

Thanks for your help Emma, Brittany & Charlie! 

We addressed the above concerns in our five individual presentations to council, but four of your representatives just weren’t convinced.

[1] The “video” option works best in Safari. The “MP4 video” works on most computers but lacks the option to click to different parts of the agenda. 


Generation Squeeze relies on small, individual donations to grow and sustain our work. Can you chip in to help continue our CodeRed housing campaign in Victoria and throughout B.C.? Become a monthly Backer here.


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Victoria City Council Votes NO to a Foreign Buyers Tax
Victoria City Council Votes NO to a Foreign Buyers Tax
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