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This Is Why Whistler Should Be Exempt from Canada's Empty Homes Tax.

This is an open letter to our Member of Parliament, Patrick Weiler:

Good afternoon Patrick,
thank you for taking the time to address the problems with the proposed Underused Housing Tax in Whistler, B.C. I am a local real estate agent in Whistler and a colleague of David Brown.

I work with several USA and non-resident clients that own Tourist Accommodation properties in Whistler.
There are so many flaws with this tax in Whistler that you and Dave have addressed, but one that I don't think was emphasized enough is the fact most of these Tourist Accommodation properties that will be effected by the UHT are GST applicable.
  • These units have been used as short term rentals and are therefore GST applicable upon resale. Owners have been collecting and submitting GST on their earned nightly rental revenue.
  • When a prospective buyer wants to purchase a nightly zoned property, they must register for a GST number and continue to offer nightly rentals and collect and submit GST annually or quarterly.
  • Because these properties are GST applicable, these owners are restricted on how much they can use their unit and must offer the property for nightly rental for a vast majority of the year.
  • These properties should be exempt from the UHT as they are providing nightly accommodation to tourists as per the zoning.
  • Some of these GST applicable properties already have restrictive covenants on title restricting personal use to 56 days per year (28 days in the winter and 28 days in the summer - if you were to divide the year into two seasons).
  • If a prospective buyer wants to use the property for full-time usage and no longer offer nightly rentals on GST applicable properties, they are required to pay 5% GST on the value of the property at closing. Thus, no longer offering the property for short term rental and keeping the property vacant when not using it personally. This would have a detrimental effect on the Whistler economy. The whole reason we have these Phase 1 and Phase 2 covenants to begin with.
How can an owner be required to rent out their unit for a majority of the year while also being taxed for not using this same unit? This is the opposite of 'Under Used'. I don't understand how this makes sense to the Federal Government? This is a textbook example of an oxymoron.

Whistler is Canada's first resort. We have encouraged Foreign Investment since its inception. Why are we now punishing these same investors and neighbours that have helped grow the resort to what it is today?

Other factors to consider:
  • The RESORT Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has specific zoning for Tourist Accommodation: owners pay a premium for these properties, and they are also subject to the Tourism Whistler Tax.
    • Phase 1: zoned for nightly rentals and "unlimited" owner use. Owners can hire a property manager or mange the units themselves.
    • Phase 2: zoned for nightly rentals and allow 56 days of personal use. Usually located within hotels with onsite management. When not being used personally, these properties are available for short term rentals.
    • 1/4 share: zoned for nightly rentals and allow 1 week per month of personal use. Usually located within hotels with onsite management. If the owner decides to not use their unit that week, they can add their property to a rental pool for short term rentals.
    • 1/10 share: zoned for nightly rentals and allow 5 weeks per year of personal use. If the owner decides to not use their unit that week, they can add their property to a rental pool for short term rentals. This is limited to Fairmont at Natures Door and Montebello.
  • The RMOW has specific zoning for Employee Housing: only employees or retirees of Whistler are permitted to occupy these units.
  • The RMOW has specific zoning under the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA): these properties are priced well below market value and are limited by approximately 1-3% appreciation on resale. Only employees or retirees of Whistler are permitted to purchase these units. There is a waiting list that potential buyers must meet the requirements and register with the WHA.
  • The RMOW has specific Residential Zoned properties: traditional family homes, condos and townhomes. Ideal for full time use or long term rentals over 30 days. These properties are not zoned for nightly rentals. The RMOW imposes strict fines of up to $1000 a day for anyone illegally renting their property out in contravention of the zoning bylaws.
My point is: Whistler is already set-up for a balance of short term, long term and employee housing.
Whistler has been exempt from all the other recent taxes and prohibitions such as: The Speculation Tax, The Empty Homes Tax, The Foreign Buyer and Airbnb ban.

I respectfully ask that Whistler be exempt from the Under Used Housing Tax.

Thank you for your consideration.


Matthew Callaghan