Mayor Tory wants ‘vacant home tax’ applied across Toronto

By Lucas Casaletto

Toronto Mayor John Tory wants the city to create a tax on vacant homes moving forward – a plan he says would go into effect by 2022.

“It will encourage people not to leave homes vacant,” Tory said. “That’s the real purpose of the tax is not to have homes that are sitting vacant at the time when we have a shortage in the city. It will help to make more housing available.”

Tory said the money would then be used to fund affordable housing, among other benefits.

Using data from Vancouver’s implementation of a vacant home tax as an example, the mayor said if one per cent of Toronto’s housing stock stays vacant (at a tax rate of one per cent based on the average Toronto home’s current assessed value), this could equal $55 to $66 million in tax revenue per year.

If adopted, the tax will take one year to set up as technology, a public awareness campaign, exemptions, administrative and enforcement functions will need to be developed to support it.

“We knew before the pandemic that we needed to increase the supply of affordable housing and ensure the city remains a place where all members of the workforce can contemplate living,” Tory said.

“In the wake of the pandemic, this is more important than ever. I want to be very clear: the vast majority of Toronto residents will not pay this tax. I support moving ahead with this and doing everything we can to make sure it is implemented in the right way.”

Tory and other government officials approved a plan in the spring that provided 56 Toronto residents with new homes as early at Dec. as part of a rapid housing pilot program.

In Sept., the federal government also announced a $1-billion initiative that is meant to cover construction of more modular housing and also help cities buy properties for quick conversion to affordable housing.

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