The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) this week issued a statement “urging caution” on the issue of a possible vacant home tax in Toronto, saying that a “measured approach to the issue can help to avoid any unintended consequences on the housing market and property owners.”
While the city says such a tax might encourage property owners to rent out vacant properties, TREB says “there is not enough empirical data or evidence to support this approach.”
TREB President Tim Syrianos said a tax could have “unintended outcomes that run counter to the stated City benefit of increasing rental supply.”
The board release said administrative challenges would be costly, citing Vancouver, whose start-up costs totaled $5 million, although it yields only $700,000 in net annual revenues.
The board calls for more evidence and states that “one of the most effective ways to encourage homeowners to move in a bid to free up entry level and ‘middle’ housing stock is to lower the high taxation burden on housing, not add another tax penalty.”
I’m not a big fan of legislating a free market economy, but TREB’s vague arguments struck me as blatantly self-serving. My free-market thinking gets a little more complex when it comes to affordable housing, which I believe to be a human right.
While such a tax may not be a resounding success for the rental market, I can think of no unintended consequences that could possibly run directly counter to the City’s stated mandate, and while a $700,000 to $5 million cost equation doesn’t seem very logical, $5 million was a start-up cost in Vancouver, not the cost of ongoing administration.
We’ve got a rental housing problem in this city, and some very smart and creative stakeholders, including the folks at TREB, who say they have “taken the initiative to conduct research that is contributing valuable data.” So let’s hear about that!
It’s time to enjoy fall in the city!
I want to take a quick break from discussing market matters to focus on a few local events that are of interest to me.
It’s been a spectacular week to catch up on patio-hopping and squeeze the last few minutes out of the pool before it closes for the season, but that doesn’t mean the good stuff is all behind us.
The Evergreen Brick Works has the Cask Days beer festival over three days starting October 20th. Sample more than 400 beers and ciders that celebrate unpasteurized, unfiltered, naturally carbonated beverages right out of the barrel.
Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters kicks off with a book signing at the AGO today. If you’re not already lined up, though, you may be out of luck. The exhibit, which opens Friday, houses more than 450 items del Toro has accumulated, plus objects from the AGO selected by the celebrated filmmaker.
The annual Halloween Haunt brings more than 700 monsters to wonderland this month, along with 20 haunted attractions, mazes and activities. The Toronto After Dark film festival runs from October 12th to the 20th, featuring a feast of films in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres.
Also in October, Legends of Horror, “a spooky stroll beneath Casa Loma,” comes to Toronto’s own castle.
If you’re looking for something with fewer monsters, check on the International Festival of Authors from October 19th to the 29th at Harbourfront.
Time to get started enjoying fall in the city — before it’s time to start holiday shopping.