Once again, the District of Squamish is writing to the province to implement the foreign buyers’ tax in Squamish.
At a recent meeting, council decided to write a letter to the province asking to bring the town under the gambit of the foreign buyers’ tax so the housing prices could be kept in check.
“Why people want to move here isn’t necessarily the conversation. I think the conversation is will this tax, if we are not in it, will inflate costs here, or if we are in it, will manage housing costs her.” Mayor Heintzman
Besides increasing the foreign buyer’s tax to 20 per cent, the new NDP government is also expanding it beyond the Metro Vancouver market. It will now be extended to Fraser Valley, Capital Regional District, Nanaimo Regional District, as well as the Central Oknagan.
Squamish, however, has been excluded from that tax, but the Mayor and council want the province to further expand it to Squamish.
Mayor Patricia Heintzman says perhaps the province doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation, and the need for such a tax to be implemented in town. Councillor Susan Chapelle, however, said a lot of people may be moving to Squamish because of lifestyle and there needs to be some analysis on foreign buyers before the council sends a letter.
Heintzman, however, felt the tax was needed at this moment.
“I am not sure if the conversation is really about if people are coming here for lifestyle, or…they like the name Squamish. Why people want to move here isn’t necessarily the conversation. I think the conversation is will this tax, if we are not in it, will inflate costs here, or if we are in it, will manage housing costs here,” she said.
Heintzman said the tax, if implemented in Squamish, could correct the increasing housing prices.
“It’s easy to see how investors will flock to Squamish, and affordability is already an issue, and it will make affordability worse…” Councillor Wulf
“Just to give you some example, the median home price in Squamish is $945,000, median home price in Nanaimo is $420,000, in surrey is mid-700s, and same in Langley and we are far and above the areas that are trying to control the housing costs,” she said.
Councillor Jason Blackmann-Wulff said the town should be included because there needs to be parity with Metro Vancouver.
“It’s easy to see how investors will flock to Squamish, and affordability is already an issue, and it will make affordability worse. My understanding of the tax is that it only applied to those who are not Canadian citizens, or don’t have PR. If you have PR or Canadian, it won’t apply to you. It’s for people who are parking capital in residential real estate, with the hopes of making a quick buck,” he said.
Councillors Karen Elliott and Peter Kent were also supportive of implementing the tax. Elliott said the tax could also avoid what she called empty home syndrome, whereas Kent supported the Mayor’s assertion that something needs to be done to keep the town’s run away home prices in check.
Councillor Prior reluctantly supported the motion, saying that there were municipalities who didn’t want the tax as it could negatively impact homeowners. He also wanted more details on the foreign buyers and how the tax revenues would help housing affordability.
This is the second time Squamish has urged the council to implement the tax. Two years ago, Mayor Patricia Heintzman wrote a letter to the province, asking it to implement the tax in Squamish citing an unaffordable housing market.