Metro Vancouver will encourage the provincial parties in the spring of 2017 to make changes to the Home Owner Grant and tax allocation program in order to provide a more fair and equitable system of property taxation in B.C.The move, which will occur ahead of next year’s provincial election, follows an unprecedented rise in the composite home price index for the Lower Mainland, which rose by 52 per cent in less than two years and led to a nine per cent jump in the Home Owner Grant threshold value, from $1.1 million to $1.2 million, over the same period.As a result, fewer people will qualify for the grant because of the rising property assessments in Metro Vancouver. The new threshold is expected to apply to 91 percent of homeowners in B.C., which is slightly down from 95 per cent in 2006. However, Metro Vancouver’s share of the total grant issuance has declined over the past decade from 53 per cent to 46.8 per cent, despite its population growth outpacing the rest of the province.“With the announcement from BC Assessment that there will be another significant increase to property assessments in the range of 30% to 50%, even fewer people including families, will be eligible for the grant and as a result they are being priced out of our region,” said Raymond Louie, Vice Chair of Metro Vancouver and Chair of the Intergovernment and Finance Committee. “The Home Owners Grant is intended to help people but is failing to do so in too many cases.”The basic Home Owner Grant, provided by the province to reduce the property tax paid by a homeowner on a primary residence, is $570. Seniors, veterans and people with disabilities may qualify for additional grants of $275 for a total of $845. However, the amount of the grant starts dropping for properties worth more than $1.2 million and hits zero when the property value reaches $1.35 million.“There has to be some way to address the inequities we’re facing in Metro Vancouver,” said Board Chair Greg Moore. “If this continues, it will have a negative impact on our residents that will affect the livability of our region.”A Metro Vancouver-commissioned report by Cascadia Partners, which is still underway, looks at how provincial property taxes and the B.C. Home Owner Grant have changed over time. It has suggested several alternatives to amend the existing grant, including having a fixed percentage eligibility by municipality, which would mean each municipality in the province could establish a different grant eligibility threshold value reflecting the distribution of property values, while maintaining the provincial average at 91 per cent eligibility.Other suggestions include having different grant levels by municipality; eliminating the grant threshold and lowering grant levels; different grant levels by length of ownership; and scrap the grant and invest in affordability.