Multi-million-dollar homeowners generally do not protest in public spaces. However, in Vancouver, they do. The latest event saw protesters raising their voices against a surtax brought about by the ruling NDP government. This tax is to be imposed on residents valued in excess of three million Canadian dollars. Rhys Kesselman, the academic who first proposed such a tax, is dismissive of such concerns. Kesselman is a professor in Simon Fraser University's School of Public Policy. He does think that one part of the levy should be changed.
Tackling high property prices
Vancouver's NDP government has recently put into effect a number of measures to manage super-high home prices. Affordability is a big problem in the province. Owning residential property in Vancouver now takes up to a prohibitive 85 percent of the standard household income. In Canada, these figures are the worst. The government, in its provincial budget in February, jacked up the tax on foreign buyers and extended it beyond the Metro region of Vancouver. This province also implemented unoccupied homes' tax owed by non-residents. Public pressure forced the government to dial back this tax.
The latest controversial measure is the change to school tax. The latter helps to finance the education system. It is dependent on the value of properties. Residences worth in excess of three million will be taxed at 0.2 percent on the exceeded figure. It means the owner of a property worth $3.5 million will pay an extra $1,000. If the home value crosses $4 million, then the levy charged will be 0.4 percent.
For the wealthier residents of Vancouver, this law has become a bugbear. Many of them are trying to contact the elected officials. They say they have no problem in funding an excellent education system but they object to extortionate practices where they- the homeowners- are the victims.
The opposition parties have supported the protesters. Michael Smith, the Mayor of West Vancouver, decried this measure as a 'scandalous' one. David Eby, the B.C Attorney General, had planned to host the town hall during the first week of May to discuss this tax. A few real estate companies encouraged residents to attend this event even if they do not carry tickets. This event was subsequently canceled due to concerns regarding security. Advertisements were placed in newspapers terming the tax a kind of attack on Canadians who have worked hard to earn money so that they can buy comfortable homes.