In the Vancouver Sun, Dan Fumano has reported on a poll commissioned by the City of Vancouver on three housing initiatives led by local government — the Empty Homes Tax, the Short-Term Rentals policy, and the Ten Year Housing Strategy.

The polling was undertaken in April by Research Co. and polled four hundred Vancouver residents. There were some surprising results. 

When asked about the Empty Homes Tax — assessed at 1% of a property’s assessment value — Mario Canseco of Research Co. expected that there would more support for the tax on the east side of the city than the west side. “But even on the west side, the poll found 86 per cent of respondents supported the Empty Homes Tax.” This tax is expected to generate net revenue of approximately $20 million annually.

The survey also asked about the City’s new short-term rentals policy, which covers Airbnb and VRBO rentals, and which will be enacted this month for people renting their principal residence for less than 30 days. Under this policy, a municipal license will be required, and an annual fee paid to city hall on top of whatever fees are required by the third-party service; the one-time licensing fee is $56.00 and the annual fee is $46.00. The poll showed that 76 per cent of renters across the city were supportive of this, but only 66 per cent of homeowners.

It may be that homeowners are not claiming the rent received from short-term rentals to the Canada Revenue Agency, and thus may not be in favour of such scrutiny.

The most interesting results came out of the question asking about the City of Vancouver’s Ten Year Housing Strategy. When asked about the plan to “transform single family neighbourhoods” by allowing the construction of townhouses, row houses and low-rise apartments, 79 per cent of renters polled in the city were in favour, but only 53 per cent of homeowners supported such a measure. This suggests that the City of Vancouver has more work to do with existing homeowners.

It’s important for all residents to understand the collective, social benefits of more density in their neighbourhoods, including more walkable communities, housing choice for aging in place, and easy access to schools, shops and services.

As Vancouver begins to adequately accommodate more housing options, and different ways of conceiving of ‘homes’, people who currently own housing of all kinds must be part of the solution. And those solutions may need to be creative.


Images Vancouver Sun