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Published on Thursday, April 20, 2017

Oakville mayor applauds new housing plan

New rule empowers municipalities to tax vacant homes

Oakville mayor applauds new housing plan
Oakville Mayor Rob Burton
By Nathan Howes, Oakville Beaver

With the announcement of Ontario’s new Fair Housing Plan Thursday, April 20, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton is commending the Province for taking action to curb unsustainable increases in housing costs in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH).

The provincial government revealed 16 measures intended to calm the rising cost of housing in the area, including a new 15 per cent Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) on non-Canadian citizens, non-permanent residents and non-Canadian corporations buying residential properties containing one to six units in the GGH.

It also includes a new rule empowering municipalities to implement a tax on vacant homes, as well as the introduction of a targeted $125-million, five-year program to encourage the construction of new purpose-built rental apartment buildings by rebating a portion of development charges.

“What has been very clear from the start is that rampant offshore speculation has skewed Oakville’s housing market with excess demand,” stated Burton, in a media release.

“Homes should be places to live first and places to invest second and I’m pleased to see that fundamental idea being reinforced with this action.”

According to figures released by the Oakville, Milton and District Real Estate Board (OMDREB, the median residential sale price of homes in Oakville increased 47.77 per cent between March 2016 and 2017.

Unchecked offshore speculation has also resulted in a drastic increase in empty homes in Oakville, stated the release out of the mayor’s office.

In March, Burton called on Halton Region staff to study vacant homes across Halton. According to the 2016 Canadian census, roughly 5,000 homes in Halton are currently listed as “unoccupied” private dwellings, with nearly half of all unoccupied homes concentrated in Oakville.

“Every time you leave a home empty, you lose a little bit of light and life from that neighbourhood,” said Burton.

“This is an issue of particular concern for Oakville residents and I am especially pleased to see the Province granting municipalities the power to do something about it.”

According to the Ontario government, the province’s average vacancy rate dropped to 2.1 per cent in the fall of 2016, from 2.4 per cent in 2015, the lowest vacancy rate since October 2003.

In Toronto, the vacancy rate was 1.3 per cent, the lowest in 12 years.

“People work hard to provide for their families. They should be able to rent or enter the real estate market without making great sacrifices or taking on a huge amount of risk,” said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, in a media release.

“At the same time, we recognize the need to protect the significant investment homeowners have made. This plan balances those needs to stabilize the market and prevent a sharp correction that would be harmful to everyone.”
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News

Tags: Halton Regional Municipality , Oakville Town Council



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