Relief for some as N.S. ditches non-resident property tax plan

There was relief Friday for some across Nova Scotia after Premier Tim Houston scrapped a plan aimed at addressing the housing crisis by taxing non-resident property owners.

“I don’t think it would’ve made any appreciable difference,” says real estate agent Piers Baker. “Because most of the crisis is happening here in Halifax, and these are all summer homes in rural areas.”

After hearing from people living in those areas, as well as owners of summer homes and cottages, the premier changed his mind but hasn’t offered a backup plan to alleviate the housing crunch.

“I commit to finding a tool to make home affordability, particularly for first-time homebuyers, a reality in this province,” said Houston.

Housing minister John Lohr is also pledging to get people into affordable homes.

“We will work closely with municipalities, the federal government, community organizations, and the private sector to do what needs to be done.”

The head of the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors says not only would the tax plan not help the housing issue, it would’ve hurt local economies.

“Seasonal property owners are putting dollars into the economy in the form of shopping, tourism as well as maintenance on their homes,” says Matthew Dauphinee, the association’s president-elect.

Premier Houston acknowledged the province’s reputation was taking a hit with the 2 per cent tax. He says he wanted to make sure Nova Scotia was seen as a welcoming place to live, work and visit.