A man wearing a dark suit, white shirt and no tie speaks at a podium. In the background are four Nova Scotia flags, coloured blue, yellow and red.
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston speaks to reporters in Halifax on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021.  Photo: Zane Woodford

Premier Tim Houston says he’s putting his personal pride aside and dropping the controversial non-resident property tax introduced by his Progressive Conservative government in the spring budget.

“The reputation of our province is more important than any policy, and it’s certainly more important than my personal pride,” Houston told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

“Nova Scotia is a welcoming province and I want that message to be heard loud and clear.”

The non-resident property tax (2%) will be removed for all non-residents who own residential property in Nova Scotia, while the non-resident deed transfer tax (5%) will proceed as planned.

Houston said for months he’s been hearing from Nova Scotians concerned about housing affordability and their desire to buy their first home. He told reporters his intention was that the policy would serve as a tool to support housing and improve home affordability, not to be at odds with his government’s “core value” of being a welcoming province.

“This comes down to the reputation of our province. And I believe the risk of reputational damage to Nova Scotia is becoming more and more real,” Houston said. “And it’s something I’m not willing to accept, so we’ll find another way to address the housing issue.”

The controversial decision sparked debate and outrage both within the province and nationally. This included op-eds blasting the province and labeling it as unwelcoming.

“This has been something that’s been weighing heavy on me for a long time, since the feedback came. We were obviously constantly processing feedback, constantly assessing what does it mean for the province,” Houston said.

Frequently repeating that the reputational risk to Nova Scotia is more valuable than any policy, Houston emphasized that despite his government having conducted “lots of analysis,” he hadn’t realized just how it would change the view of Nova Scotia.

“What I didn’t anticipate was that somebody, anyone, let alone a number of people, would attempt to paint Nova Scotia as unwelcoming,” Houston said.

“We do have a housing crisis, we do have issues in health care, and we’re going to get to work on all those. But sometimes you have to have to acknowledge which way, which direction, you’re going.”

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Yvette d’Entremont is a bilingual (English/French) journalist and editor who enjoys covering health, science, research, and education.

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  1. Too bad, it made sense for vacant but would have been better if every property had their assessments updated.

    100 acres by the sea owned for 50 years by someone in Alberta is probably worth more than the assessed 25 000$. Meanwhile the new minihome owner with half an acre across the road is assessed at 250k because that’s what they paid. The whole system needs a redo.

  2. I think if you have a home in wherever and another home by the sea in Nova Scotia you have the means to help support the relative few who have neither.

  3. Nova Scotia really elected a dick. Rich people complain, poor people live in tents.

  4. Premier McNeil never admitted he was wrong and no provincial Liberal MLA has ever admitted they were wrong to refuse funds for Northwood – they caused the deaths of more than 50 elderly Nova Scotians.