The “Landowner Transparency Act” was tabled at the beginning of April 2019 and, if passed, it will establish a public register for the province.
Under the proposed legislation; corporations, trusts and partnerships that already own, or will buy, land have to disclose their beneficial owners.
If they fail to do so, they face either a fine up to C$100,000 (£57,383; $ 74,880; € 66,340) or 15% of the property value, depending on whichever is greater.
Currently, land owners in Canada can hold properties via corporations and trusts or hold land indirectly, which conceals the true owner.
The news comes at a time the UK’s crown dependencies and British overseas territories are fighting the imposition of public beneficial ownership by Westminster.
Transparency at the top of the list
Canadian finance minister Carole James told local media: “This registry will make information about the true owners of British Columbia real estate publicly available and help crack down on illegal activities.
“It is one of the key steps our government is taking to ensure homes in British Columbia are used for people, not speculative investment or money laundering.”
The register will provide all information related to the specific property including owner, corporate interest holders, and possible beneficial partners.
“Requiring companies, trusts and partnerships to disclose their controlling shareholders, beneficial owners and partners protects the public by letting everyone know who they are dealing with in British Columbia’s real estate market,” Nancy Merrill, president of the Law Society of British Columbia, said.
The Canadian ministry of finance will be responsible for enforcement, and the register will be self-funded via fees for filing and searching.