Speculation tax facing criticism

Peachland (as well as Lake Country) is the closest municipality to Kelowna that won’t be hit by the new speculation tax.

Mayor Cindy Fortin’s “not crazy about it.”

Fortin said she’s heard from Albertans who own homes in Peachland, who have expressed a desire to sell if the new tax expands into Peachland.

When asked if Peachland could benefit by having a competitive edge over housing in West Kelowna and Kelowna, Fortin said “At first it might help Peachland because we’ve been excluded but in the long term I think it would be hurtful.”

The subject was discussed at council on Tuesday night. Council was largely against the tax and is considering supporting the councils of West Kelowna and Kelowna in their opposition.

Coun. Keith Thom said he has neighbours who live most of the year in Alberta, and if they became subject to the speculation tax, they’ll be “penalized for investing in their future.”

However, as long as a vacation property is rented out for at least 180 days of the year – not necessarily consecutive – the tax will not apply.

Coun. Peter Schierbeck said he is totally opposed to the tax and worries about the negative impact it will have on the province’s construction industry.

Coun. Terry Condon doesn’t think the tax will have the desired result in the beginning – he expects revisions to be made over the next few years.

MP Dan Albas said a speculation tax makes sense in places like metro Vancouver and Victoria, where foreign investors are leaving properties empty in overheated housing markets for long periods of time. But here in the Okanagan, second homes and vacation properties are typically owned by Albertans – not foreign investors – and Ashton feels like investors from other provinces are being painted with the same brush.

“These are all Canadians – what are we doing?”

Although the BCNDP is calling it a “speculation” tax, MLA Dan Ashton said it’s not actually a tax on speculators – it’s a tax on assets. And he wants to know why Whistler was exempt from it, given the amount of vacation properties within that municipality.

But no matter which jurisdictions it threatens, “I don’t want to see any new additional taxes,” Ashton said.

Tax revenues have to come from somewhere though, and Premier John Horgan says 99 per cent of British Columbians won’t be affected anyway.

“Those that will be affected have options available,” he said.

During a stop in Penticton on Tuesday, Horgan didn’t rule out the possibility of extending the speculation tax further south in the Okanagan.

Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, was asked by The View on Wednesday afternoon if he would ever implement a federal speculation tax should he become Prime Minister.

“We’re not the party that believes in higher taxes,” he said.

See the Peachland Chamber of Commerce’s position here 

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