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British Columbia to raise limit on homeowner grant

Justine Hunter, Globe & Mail, Jan 9, 2017

B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong will raise the threshold for the province’s homeowner grant this week, after the skyrocketing value of British Columbian homes threatened to cut many homeowners out of the property-tax relief program because their residences are now worth too much.

Mr. de Jong said Monday he will have details later this week of the new threshold, in response to the latest property assessments.
Last year, 91 per cent of all homes in the province were covered by the homeowner grant program, which offers $570 to owners of properties with an assessed value of less than $1.2-million. But this year, only 83 per cent of B.C. homes in the province would be covered under the grant’s current format, according to data from Landcor Data Corp., a leading real estate valuation firm.

Finance officials confirmed Monday that relief is on the way, after Mr. de Jong made the promise during an interview with a Kamloops radio station.

Mr. de Jong said the government wants to make sure that as many families as possible benefit from the grant.

The province currently spends $800-million on the grant program, but pressure is on to increase the threshold because of the significant jump in assessments posted in 2016.

The government kept the grant threshold at $1.1-million for two consecutive years as housing prices rose slowly, but the province raised it $100,000 last year to help homeowners dealing with assessments that rose 10 to 30 per cent. (Since 2003, the threshold has been raised nine times.)

The B.C. Liberal government has announced a series of measures since last February’s budget aimed to tackle affordability of housing. The changes to the homeowner grant will likely not be the last change as the governing party prepares for a provincial election in May.