View Royal council chooses different route to deal with overheated housing market

Mayor’s meeting to be requested from CRD

Mayor David Screech is clear that he does not support asking the province to institute a property transfer tax rate penalty for foreign buyers in the region, should their numbers make up 10 per cent or more of total residential real estate buyers for two consecutive months.

View Royal council was discussing a letter from the Capital Regional District asking for local government input on the issue. A motion calling for the CRD to ask the province to levy an additional 15 per cent transfer tax in the above situation was brought forward last month by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Southern Gulf Islands director David Howe. It aimed to “ensure a level playing field among the three least affordable regions in the country,” the others being Vancouver and Toronto.

The CRD board voted to table the matter to gain more input from affected municipalities.

In discussion at View Royal’s May 16 council meeting, Screech said there was little evidence at this point that foreign buyers are having the same kind of influence on prices in Greater Victoria as in the larger markets. He called the idea electioneering ploy.

“My objection to it is on all sorts of levels,” he said, noting that foreign nationals have strengthened the economy here and frequently live in the houses they buy, or else their children attending school in the region live in the condos they purchase. Screech called it a “revenue cow” for government and noted that some at the board compared it to the equivalent of a “head tax.”

Coun. John Rogers said he could see the intent of the CRD motion as well as the flaws, but was the lone vote for supporting it as is. A counter motion, suggesting that the Town write the CRD to ask that a meeting of regional mayors be called to discuss ways of cooling the housing market and increasing affordable housing, was put forward and passed 4-1.

Tour de Rock rider given fundraising boost

Earlier in the evening, council approved a request from 2017 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock rider and volunteer firefighter David Brown for a $2,500 donation from the Town. Brown is the first firefighter to ride on the Tour and bumped his personal fundraising goal from the riders’ minimum $5,000 to $20,000 between now and the end of the ride this fall.

He and West Shore RCMP Const. Cole Brewer are the West Shore representatives on the ride this year, while former Gazette journalist Arnold Lim is participating for a second time as media rider.

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