10/16/2018 16:47 EDT | Updated 10/16/2018 16:50 EDT

B.C. Vacant Home Tax Goes Forward Amid Promises Of Improved Affordability

Many owners of second homes have vocally opposed the move announced earlier this year.

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An aerial view of Vancouver at sunset. The B.C. government is going ahead with a speculation and vacancy tax meant to cool off the housing market.

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government has introduced a speculation and vacancy tax that Finance Minister Carole James says will moderate the overheated housing market and create more homes for renters.

James says the aim of the tax is to improve housing affordability for thousands of people, including seniors forced to live in their vehicles and young professionals who leave the province because they can't find a place to live.

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The proposed tax is calculated at rates of 0.5 per cent, one per cent or two per cent of assessed value of homes in core, urban centres, with the highest rate applied to foreign owners and so-called satellite families.

James says the new legislation includes provisions for exemptions based on special circumstances such as people seeking medical treatment or those with disabilities.

Earlier on HuffPost Canada:

The government's introduction of the tax in February's budget was met with widespread criticism from people with second homes, communities and developers saying it targets them unfairly and could impact local economies.

James says her government is tackling the housing crisis head on and the speculation and vacancy tax is an essential piece of that plan.