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Vancouver homeowners pay highest property taxes in Canada, research finds

Last Updated Sep 28, 2020 at 11:17 am PDT

Homes are pictured in Vancouver, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

SFU professor's research shows Vancouverites pay highest property taxes in Canada

The difference in property tax raises questions, expert says, who wonders what services city is providing

Expert is calling for an independent audit into why property taxes are so high in Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouverites are paying the highest single-family property taxes in Canada, according to a professor at Simon Fraser University, but it’s unclear exactly what they’re getting for all their extra dollars.

Dr. Andrey Pavlov, who is a professor of finance and real estate, says Vancouverites are also paying the second-highest annual property tax increase this year.

“This calculation is based on single-family homes because single-family homes consume pretty much the same level of municipal services across the country, and therefore, in my view, should be paying about the same tax,” he explains. “I’m very curious as to why homeowners in Vancouver end up paying so much more than pretty much any other place in Canada.”

Pavlov believes one of two things is driving this. He says either the city “is providing essential services in a very non-efficient way,” or Vancouver is spending money “on other service that are outside of the mandate of the city.”

Independent review required

Regardless, Pavlov says an independent audit would be the only way to pin point the cause in order to address the high cost.

Pavlov used the benchmark price for a home of this type when conducting his research. According to his research, single-family homeowners paid an average of just more than $6,200 in property taxes this past year, nearly $1,000 more than people in Toronto.

Toronto, however, has harsh winters to factor into public services.

“It is not clear why a homeowner in Vancouver should be paying so much more than anyone else. So there is some waste happening along the way,” he explains.

“Now, whether that waste is for just inefficient provision of services and can just handled by better administration or whether the spending priorities are different, that’s up to an independent auditor who could, and in my view should, determine.”

The solution to reign in spending comes in two parts, Pavlov says, noting the first is to go back to basics when it comes to the City of Vancouver’s budget.

“I would call it an emergency situation. I think the City of Vancouver should re-review every single spending item and ask itself, ‘Is this really an essential core service we’re providing? Or is it something that can be cut?'”

The second is to reduce barriers to renovating and building homes around the city to help increase supply to meet demand.