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Published on Friday, April 21, 2017

Oakville Beaver Editorial: "It’s a start."

Provincial action against vacant homes draws support

Oakville Beaver Editorial: "It’s a start."
Too-hot properties sparking cool down
Oakville Beaver Editorial

It’s a start.

Having a meeting just a week ago with mayors representing Toronto and the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region (GGHR) communities affected by the skyrocketing real estate prices, vacant-house syndrome and a real lack of housing that is affordable to many families, Ontario Premier introduced a fix-it plan this week.

At least it’s a start to a fix-it plan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the reasons behind the market trends need to be examined.

Following the lead set forth on Canada’s west coast, Ontario’s new Fair Housing Plan is a package deal of 16 measures intended to calm the rising cost of housing in the GGHR.

Leading the way is 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 GGHR.

The Premier was clear, it would not affect people new to Canada making their home here, only those with no intention of calling this home, but parking investment cash.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton commended the plan.

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 construction of new purpose-built rental apartment buildings by rebating a portion of development charges.

It remains to be seen if Oakville will impose a tax on vacant homes. What is readily seen in Oakville are the vacant homes. It seems like there’s one on every street. As residents from various neighbourhoods chat, they have a similar experience. There’s such a home near them.

Burton said, “Rampant offshore speculation has skewed Oakville’s housing market with excess demand. The mayor continues, “Homes should be places to live first and places to invest second.”

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.

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

“Every time you leave a home empty, you lose a little bit of light and life from that neighbourhood,” said Burton, noting this issue is of particular concern for Oakville residents.

And an empty house is not the safest of neighbours.

While real estate may be a smart investment, especially in troubled economic times, we are feeling the pain of our global economy, and feeling it, in many ways, right here at home where we live. Hopefully this new plan will make a difference now, and in future, for the affordable housing that is sorely needed here.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News, Opinion

Tags: Affordable Housing

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