BC Legislature Back To Work – New Rules On Real Estate, Foreign Ownership and Transgender Rights

Victoria – JULY 25 UPDATE – It was a busy Monday morning for Provincial Politics in Victoria.

As predicted by many, BC will bring in a 15% property tax for foreign buyers. This new tax will take effect on August 2nd and apply to foreign nationals or foreign-controlled corporations that purchase homes in Metro Vancouver. This will mean a $300,000 tax on a home worth $2 million. This won’t have a direct effect on the Fraser Valley but there could be a spin off.

Also, BC Minister of Justice and Attourney General Suzanne Anton introduced government legislation to change the human rights code to protect transgender rights.

The release on Foreign Investment:

Legislation introduced creates new measures to help make home ownership more affordable, establishes a fund for market housing and rental initiatives, strengthens consumer protection, and gives the City of Vancouver the tools it requested to increase rental property supply.

Bill 28, Miscellaneous Statutes (Housing Priority Initiatives) Amendment Act, 2016, was introduced in the legislature today.

“Owning a home should be accessible to middle-class families, and those who are in a position to rent should be able to find a suitable home,”Premier Christy Clark said. “These changes are about helping to make sure that British Columbians can continue to live, work and raise their families in our vibrant communities.”

An additional property transfer tax rate of 15% will apply to purchasers of residential real estate who are foreign nationals or foreign-controlled corporations. The additional tax will take effect Aug. 2, 2016, and will apply to foreign entities registering their purchase of residential property in Metro Vancouver,  excluding the treaty lands of the Tsawwassen First Nation.

For mixed-use property, the additional tax would apply on the residential component of the foreign interest in a property. For example, the additional tax on the purchase of a home valued at $2 million will amount to $300,000.

“The data we started collecting earlier this summer is showing that foreign nationals invested more than $1 billion into B.C. property between June 10 and July 14, more than 86% of it in the Lower Mainland,” said Finance Minister Michael de Jong. “While investment from outside Canada is only one factor driving price increases, it represents an additional source of pressure on a market struggling to build enough new homes to keep up. This additional tax on foreign purchases will help manage foreign demand while new homes are built to meet local needs.”

Second, the government is creating a new Housing Priority Initiatives Fund for provincial housing and rental programs, which will be announced in the near future. The fund will receive an initial investment of $75 million. It will receive a portion of revenues from the property transfer tax, including revenues from the new additional tax on foreign buyers.

Third, the Province is amending the Real Estate Services Act to substantially implement the key recommendations of the independent advisory group report, and to end self-regulation of the real estate industry. Government has accepted all the recommendations in the report. These changes will increase significantly the superintendent of real estate’s authority and oversight.

The power to make the rules that apply to the conduct of licensees will rest with the new superintendent of real estate instead of with council. The new superintendent will also have the authority to direct and oversee council operations, including requiring council to investigate a particular matter, issue a notice of a disciplinary hearing, and provide reports on the operations and activities of council to the superintendent. As well, the chair, vice-chair and all other members of the council will be appointed by government.

“We need to ensure that when people are ready to make such an important investment, the proper protections and oversight are in place,” said de Jong. “Consumers must be confident their interests are held above all else.”

Fourth, amendments to the Vancouver Charter provide the legislative authority for the city to implement and administer a tax on vacant homes. The City of Vancouver will design the framework of the vacancy tax, including details like the tax rate, when it will apply and any necessary exemptions.

“The issue of housing supply and affordability is impacting British Columbians and the livability of our Province, especially the Metro Vancouver region,” said Minister Peter Fassbender. “The City of Vancouver has identified the need for a vacancy tax in order to meet rental supply issues. We are taking action by introducing legislation today that enables them to do this work.”

The Province is working on additional measures to address the complex causes of rising housing prices in Metro Vancouver, as well as other regions of the province. This work focuses on ensuring the dream of home ownership remains within the reach of the middle class, increasing housing supply, smart transit expansion, supporting first-time home buyers, strengthening consumer protection and increasing rental supply.

The release on Human Rights/Transgender:

Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton introduced legislation today to make B.C.’s Human Rights Code more explicit in the protections it affords transgender persons in British Columbia.

Bill 27, Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2016, was passed to include “gender identity or expression” among the protected grounds covered by the code. Prior to the change, transgender individuals were protected under the code’s protected grounds of “sex”, as interpreted by B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal and the courts.

By adding the grounds for protection explicitly, the amendments bring greater clarity and consistency across Canada as B.C. aligns its code with human-rights legislation across the country, including Canada’s proposed bill to add “gender identity or expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice –  

“This is a significant day for human rights in our province. For those citizens often more vulnerable to discrimination, and to all those around them, these changes help make clear that all British Columbians are protected under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, no matter their gender identity or expression.

“I want to acknowledge the efforts of those who advocated for these amendments. We have heard you and we stand with you in saying that all British Columbians deserve not only to be protected from discrimination by law, but to know that they are protected, without a doubt.”

Morgane Oger, chair, Trans Alliance Society –  

“The Trans Alliance Society has been advocating for equal protection of minorities in provincial and federal human rights law since our founding in 2001. We welcome and applaud the Government of British Columbia’s extension of the B.C. Human Rights Code by adding “gender identity or expression” to the enumerated list of prohibitions against discrimination.

“This important change to the code will help educate future generations to prevent anti-trans sentiment, will inform and guide organizations shaping inclusion policies, and will help prevent accidental human rights violations caused by the lack of awareness that this change addresses.”

Diana Juricevic, tribunal chair, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal –

The tribunal recognizes that “gender identity or expression” captures some of the most marginalized individuals and groups in British Columbia. The tribunal welcomes this amendment to the Human Rights Code. It clearly communicates that discrimination on the basis of “gender identity or expression” is prohibited and that the tribunal’s remedial process is available.”

Learn More:

For more on B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal, visit: http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/

For photos marking the introduction of Bill 27, visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos/28260106890/

ORIGINAL STORY – While we (finally) are feeling the summer heat, our provincial politicians will feel the heat of another kind.

In the air conditioned chambers of the Provincial Legislature.

As promised, the Liberals will deal with the law to open the door for the City of Vancouver’s empty home tax.

Also on the docket is changing the Human Rights code to protect transgender people and removing the real estate industry’s power to self-regulate.

But wait….there could be more.

Rumour has it (cue Adele’s hit song), there may also be a surprise bill.

Last Week, Finance Minister Mike de Jong released the public accounts and then paused…dramatically, when he was asked if there was going to be any taxes on foreign owners or foreign capital.

Victoria’s political pundits are wondering if that was a harboring of things to come this week.

Never a dull day in BC Politics.

STK_Legeslature - BC- Victoria

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