VANCOUVER -- The empty homes tax in Vancouver will more than double next year, the city announced Wednesday.

Council voted in favour of increasing the tax from 1.25 per cent to three per cent for 2021. The current rate still applies for 2020 declarations, which are due by Feb. 2. 

"I'm so glad that council backed my plan to stand up for renters and raise the empty homes tax to three per cent," said Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a news release. 

"This groundbreaking tool has helped move thousands of homes back onto the rental market to help house our neighbours, but there are still too many homes that remain empty."

When the tax was first introduced in 2017, it started at one per cent. Then council voted to increase it for the first time in 2019, to 1.25 per cent.

"By tripling the tax from one to three per cent since the tax launched, we're sending an even stronger message that homes are for people, not speculation," Stewart said.

According to the city, $61.3 million in net revenues from the tax has been used to support affordable housing initiatives. Vacant property has decreased by 25 per cent since the tax was introduced in 2017, the city says.