Victoria councillors this week approved a 10-year tax holiday for the Customs House residential/commercial project at Government and Wharf streets. Site work for the luxury homes project is due to start this fall, with the projected completion time early 2020. Courtesy Edelman

City grants 10-year tax ‘holiday’ for luxury condo building

$5.4-million tax break will offset Custom House heritage redevelopment

The City of Victoria has granted a 10-year “tax holiday” to people purchasing units in the Customs House development – but not everyone is on board.

Touted as the most expensive condominium project in Victoria, units at Customs House are reportedly selling between $1.6 million and $3.09 million, according to the Multiple Listing Service webpage.

During Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting, councillors were divided over how the tax break would impact all residents of Victoria, not just the wealthy.

Coun. Jeremy Loveday argued that while it is important to preserve heritage sites, everyday taxpayers should not subsidize tax breaks granted to luxury home owners.

Coun. Ben Isitt supported Loveday, adding his concern over potential for the development to increase the vacancy rate. “I have zero interest in giving a 10-year tax holiday to a ghost hotel,” Isitt told council.

A staff report stated the tax break mostly offset the $6.5-million cost of refurbishing the local landmark. Over 10 years, the tax break is projected to be worth approximately $5.4 million.

Coun. Geoff Young voiced concerns of a major earthquake destroying the heritage building, and Coun. Chris Coleman said it was unfair to refer to the program as a tax “holiday” rather than a “deferral.”

Launched in 1998, the City’s tax incentive program has helped owners of heritage sites maintain older buildings. The City claimed that since it’s inception, the program has created 694 residential units in 43 buildings.

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