While some Oak Bay residents view secondary suites as a mortgage helper, a cash cow or as a low income housing provider, there is clearly many who are simply being forced to pick up the tab for ever increasing demands on all of municipally funded programs and services.
When considering the pros and cons of this issue it always seems to me that one of the major partners and benefactors of the secondary suite discussion in Oak Bay is clearly missing, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). While many local residents have successfully developed and rented illegal suites over the years how many of these people have declared the income to CRA?
It is no surprise that many fail to report such income when our municipal government conveniently chooses to ignore the existence of such suites or to enforce its own by-laws, presumably for some misguided altruistic reasons. If Oak Bay council is truly determined to make suites legal, there should be a mandatory registration process for all secondary suites within the municipality. This list should be regularly updated, a substantial property tax increase should be levied for all properties with secondary suites, and an aggressive proactive search should be lead by the municipality to find and prosecute any people choosing not to comply with secondary suite registration. I would also suggest that this registration list be shared with CRA on an ongoing basis.
Surely the municipality of Oak Bay would be far better off if all property owners considering getting into the suite rental business first had a clear understanding of all of the tax implications, their personal financial reporting obligations and consequences for non-compliance.