The homeowner grant program has been taken over by the Province of B.C. in order to streamline it.
That means eligible homeowners in Chilliwack will no longer be applying for their grants through City of Chilliwack come spring.
Instead applications will go directly to the province starting in May 2021, using a new online system that is part of a recent provincial “centralization” effort, according to a Ministry of Finance media spokesperson.
It has do with efficiency.
“The Province is taking over administration of the home owner grant program starting this year to make it faster and easier for homeowners to apply,” said Sonia Lowe, media spokesperson for Ministry of Finance.
The program for rural home owners is administered provincially, so this will streamline efforts further.
Chilliwack city councillor Jason Lum said he was not surprised by this move.
“Looking at some of the provincial policy decisions that this government has made on the housing file, it is definitely a more hands-on approach.”
He cited the introduction of the Speculation and Vacancy Tax as an example.
“So it was not a surprise to hear that they were looking at the homeowner grant program.”
Centralization will also address concerns raised by municipalities over the “burden of program administration” as well as offering online access, phone service, and quicker processing.
The grant amounts for 2021 for homeowners in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley Regional District and Capital Regional District are:
• up to $570 for the basic Home Owner Grant; and
• up to $845 for homeowners who are 65 years or older, or the homeowner is a person with a disability or lives with a relative who has a disability.
The change will prevent ineligible homeowners from being penalized for late payments by enabling them to confirm eligibility before taxes are due, according to the ministry. It will also prevent fraud by preventing multiple applications for grants by owners of multiple properties in different jurisdictions.
The 2021 Home Owner Grant threshold is set at $1.625 million. The goal is ensuring the same percentage of homeowners continue to be eligible across the province, according to the ministry.
Property tax notices will start arriving in Chilliwack mailboxes after May 25, 2021.
Owners will also be notified of these program administration changes on the property tax notice, on the City of Chilliwack’s website and social media accounts.
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