Thousands face empty homes tax in Vancouver as declaration deadline passes

VANCOUVER — Nearly 8,500 homes have been declared vacant or underused in Vancouver after the submission deadline passed for the city’s new empty homes tax.The figure not only includes properties that were deemed unoccupied for six months or more, but also those that claimed one of the various exemptions to the levy. It also includes about 2,100 homes that will be hit with the tax because no declaration was submitted by Monday’s deadline.The tax is the first of its kind in Canada and is set at a rate of one per cent of a home’s assessed value. It’s aimed at freeing up more units for the city’s tight rental market.“Vancouver housing needs to be for homes first, not just treated as a commodity,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a news release.“We brought in an empty homes tax because Vancouver has a near-zero vacancy rate and many people are struggling to find a place to rent.”About 184,000 homeowners — 98 per cent — submitted their declarations on time.Sixty per cent of the empty or underused units are condominiums, 34 per cent are single-family houses and six per cent are multi-family and other types of homes, the city said.Downtown Vancouver is home to 2,250 unoccupied or underutilized homes, by far the largest number. But the West End and Shaughnessy have the highest percentage of vacant units relative to the total number of residential properties in the neighbourhoods, at eight per cent each.Declared vacant and undeclared properties will be issued a vacancy tax bill in mid-March with payment due by April 16, the city said.But the city did not say how many of the 8,481 unoccupied or underutilized homes were granted an exemption. So it’s unclear how many homes will receive a tax bill, apart from the 2,132 undeclared units.There are a wide range of exemptions for homes that are left empty for more than six months a year, including if it’s a primary residence, if it’s undergoing renovations or the owner is in hospital or long-term care.City spokesman Jag Sandhu said specific numbers of exempt or vacant declarations will not be confirmed until audits have been conducted and owners have submitted appeals. The numbers will be released, along with the revenue raised by the tax, in an annual report to council this fall, he said.The provincial government signalled in its budget last month that it intended to introduce a tax on homeowners who do not pay income taxes in B.C. and leave their units vacant. The plan means that some owners of empty Vancouver homes could end up paying both a city and a provincial tax.A 2016 city-commissioned report analyzed electricity use and found about 10,800 Vancouver homes were left vacant for more than a year, most of them condominiums. read more


Security Council urges stronger measures to keep chemical nuclear weapons away from

Meeting to mark the 10th anniversary the adoption of resolution 1540, on 28 April 2004, the Council today adopted a Presidential Statement through which its members called on all States to “step up their efforts to implement [the resolution], focusing on areas where measures taken may be strengthened, with a view to achieving full implementation of the resolution by 2021.”By the terms of resolution 1540, the Council decided that all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery.The resolution requires all States to adopt and enforce appropriate effective laws to that effect. It also requires them to develop and maintain effective border controls and law-enforcement efforts to detect, deter, prevent and combat, including through international cooperation when necessary, the illicit trafficking and brokering in such items in accordance with their national legal authorities and legislation, and consistent with international law.More than 60 speakers are set to address the meeting, “Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Resolution 1540 (2004) and Looking Ahead.” It was convened by the Republic of Korea, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for the month as well as the chair of the body that monitors implementation of the resolution, known by the diplomatic shorthand, “1540 Committee.”Briefing the Council was UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, and the meeting was chaired by Yun Byung, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.“Resolution 1540 has helped us make important inroads against the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons…it has set in motion a great number of steps by Member States,” said Mr. Eliasson, noting that more than 30,000 measures and actions by States implementing the text have been reported to the 1540 Committee.But, of course, this is only part of the story, he continued, noting that there have also been setbacks and disappointments, including the recent use of chemical weapons in Syria.“However, through vigorous diplomatic and administrative action, and by agreement, over 90 per cent of Syria’s chemical weapons have been removed from the country even as the conflict has continued and partly intensified,” said Mr. Eliasson.He also noted that some 20 countries had not submitted a report on their implementation efforts to the 1540 Committee. In most cases, these are countries facing serious economic or social difficulties. “I encourage all Member States that have not yet done so, to submit a first report in this anniversary year of resolution 1540,” he said.“For the resolution to work even more effectively, it must be a global commitment, a global enterprise. It is critical for every country to implement this resolution,” said Mr. Eliasson, explaining that terrorists and traffickers tend to target countries whose customs, borders, imports, exports, ports and airports are less well or poorly monitored or controlled.One promising trend is the preparation of voluntary national implementation action plans. At the recent Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, 32 countries released a joint statement reaffirming a commitment to submit such action plans to the 1540 Committee. It is an important step forward.“Looking ahead, we hope to see expanded regional cooperation in implementing the resolution, especially since States sharing borders often face similar challenges,” he said, also highlighting the role of civil society in moving the world closer to meeting the goals of resolution 1540.“And by those joint efforts we can come closer to an even more ambitious vision: a world free of all weapons of mass destruction,” declared Mr. Eliasson. read more