Windsor Councillor Pushing for Vacant Home Tax

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A Windsor councillor is hoping the city can start taxing vacant homes.

Fabio Costante says there's a major need for affordable housing in the city and many landlords are keeping rental rates too high for tenants to afford.

The city considers a home vacant after it's been empty for more than 90 days.

Costante says forcing landlords to lower rents could have a big impact.

"This is in the context of a crisis that we have right now when it comes to affordable housing, when it comes to homelessness," he says. "I hope to do whatever we can to incentivize people that own vacant properties that aren't doing anything with them to do something with them and the ultimate objective is to increase the supply of housing."

Costante says this is an opportunity for council to be precedent setting.

"I want this council to be the council that moves the furthest that it can within the law to do something about our vacant properties and our vacant homes. We may be one of the first communities, in fact, that does this. It may require us to be a bit bold, but I think we can do it," he says.

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Windsor city councillor Fabio Costante on May 6, 2019 (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

Back in July, council agreed to extend Windsor's Vacant Building Initiative program for another year in an effort to crack down on blight.

Since it's launch in August 2018, roughly 750 vacant buildings have been identified leading to dozens of bylaw charges and 26 demolitions.

Costante says there's a crisis in affordable housing especially in Ward 2, the area he represents.

In my ward, in the west side, we've got the highest percentage of vacant homes. So it's a huge issue on the west side. It's a big issue downtown and in different parts of our city. In the context of our housing supply, I think it's an issue that we have to continuously work at," he says.

City administration has been asked for a report on the idea of a vacant home tax.