The government of B.C. has increased its homeowner grant threshold from $1.2 million to $1.6 million — a 33 per cent increase.
The province says the increase will ensure that most homeowners who received the grant in 2016 will qualify for it again in 2017.
The government expects to spend $821 million on homeowner grants in 2017-18, compared to $809 million in 2016-17, according to a release from the province.
According to the release, 91 per cent of B.C. homes will remain below the new threshold despite recent steep increases in values from B.C. Assessment.
The province says 83 per cent of Metro Vancouver homes are below the new threshold.
NDP says increase too little, too late
David Eby, MLA for Vancouver Point Grey and housing critic for the B.C. NDP, says the move is another stop-gap measure from the government.
"They're reacting to patch things up two years too late, and it's a giant mess," Eby said.
Eby said that, though the on-paper wealth of many B.C. homeowners has skyrocketed in recent years along with home prices, so too have taxes and other associated costs.
The result, he said, is a lot of financially-strained families who have no way of accessing that value without selling and moving.
"The idea that there are all these really rich homeowners that are somehow leeching off the system is a bit of a fiction," Eby said.
The homeowner grant reduces property taxes on the owner's principal residence. The basic grant is worth up to $570, or up to $770 if the home is in a northern or rural area.
Additional grants are available for seniors, people with disabilities, spouses of veterans and those who qualify as low income.