Opinion: Getting schooled over high-end home tax

Provincial "school tax" will affect West Vancouver more than any other district, so a fair share of revenues should be used to fund local affordable housing

West Vancouver has formally asked the province to scrap the additional school tax on homes valued at more than $3 million, which is expected to hit more than a third of the homeowners in the wealthy enclave.

The request will most likely fall on deaf ears in Victoria and engender little sympathy elsewhere in the province, but there are legitimate criticisms of the tax. It has nothing to do with schools, as the name suggests, and is in fact an asset tax.

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In Canada, municipalities only collect about eight cents of every tax dollar and this is absolutely an encroachment on the property tax base they rely on.

And West Vancouver is disproportionately affected. A massive amount of the new tax will come from just one municipality with less than one per cent of the province’s population.

But there are reasons why we have this tax in the first place. It was meant to help cool the positively reckless housing market. It’s meant to capture some of the unprecedented windfall of wealth that was pumped into our real estate sector, leaving a generation of people priced out.

Seniors at risk of being displaced by the tax have the option of deferring it until after they sell. People living in substandard housing or those losing half their paycheque to their landlord can only wish they had a school tax to worry about.

This is why much of that money must come back in the form of grants for affordable housing projects in the municipality.

With no way to house local employees and council teetering on the verge of pulling out of the only serious transit investment the municipality has had in a generation, West Van is going to need all the help they can get.

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