Every week, during the run-up to the Oct. 20 election, the Capital News will ask West Kelowna candidates a question about a local issue. This week’s question is: What impact will the speculation tax have on your city and what would you do to mitigate or capitalize on the effects?
Joe Gluska, council candidate
The City of West Kelowna is being unfairly placed under the umbrella of the provincial speculation tax. The uncertainty has already caused concerns and difficulties for council and staff in West Kelowna.
Gordon Wiebe, council candidate
The speculation tax has already negatively affected West Kelowna. A large residential development on the south side of the city has been scrapped. More will likely follow, and the city will forego millions of dollars in revenue from lost development construction costs (DCC) fees and unrealized property taxes
Jayson Zilkie, council candidate
The full impact is not known yet, but there is seemingly less interest to take on projects that may be affected by purchases affected by the speculation tax.
Winston Wammer, council candidate
There are big differences between the cost of housing in the Lower Mainland versus the Okanagan and non-resident ownership. The absentee owners in the Okanagan are predominantly vacation home owners and bring considerable revenue to our tax pool, pay for utilities, buy at local businesses, and add significantly to tourists revenues.
Rosalind Neis, council candidate
If anyone has tried to find rental accommodation in West Kelowna you will find many options (suites: legal and non-legal) homes, condos and town homes. Prices range from $600 – $3,000 and up. Purchasing also has a massive price range that is more than some areas of our country and less than others. .
Carol Zanon, council candidate
The speculation tax has already had an impact on West Kelowna; however, I am encouraged by news that the provincial government will look at modifications and exemptions during the Fall legislative session.
To mitigate, members of the new council should continue to request an economic impact study, ask that the assumptions be corrected, and request to meet with the Premier and MLA Weaver before the tax becomes reality. Also, the city must look for new economic opportunities.
Rick de Jong, council candidate
We have already seen housing developments put on hold as a direct result from the promise that this tax is coming in the fall. Your Council will have to be responsive to the new economic realities of a slowing economy if the B.C. speculation tax becomes a reality later this fall.
Doug Findlater, council candidate
That being said when I spoke with Premier Horgan recently he told me that he is looking at ways to make the tax “more palatable” and they are considering exemptions.
In the meantime, the city is looking at ways to raise new revenue such as selling gravel from the Bartley Road property and also will tighten the budget in 2019.
Gord Milsom, mayoral candidate
To mitigate the negative effects of this tax, I will continue the fight to ensure that the province knows that the West Kelowna community wants to be excluded from the tax and that we want to take ownership and responsibility for both home affordability and rental accommodation matters within our community.
Jason Friesen, council candidate
If the province is making it more difficult to do business within our City, we need to ensure that we are counteracting that by doing whatever we can to ensure we are making it as easy as we can to do business here. We need to de-risk as much of the potential investment for developers and investors by reducing the development process time to offset some of the additional risk that they believe may be looming.
Stephen Johnston, council candidate
We now have a situation where out of province Canadians are penalized for purchasing in one area of the west side but not the other. It makes it difficult for developers to be competitive in a market that favours one geographic location over the next, in many cases from one side of the street to the other.
Mary Mandarino, mayoral candidate
The scaremongering currently circulating regards the speculation tax is causing hesitations in development industries and affecting trades people. The impact on the value of recreational homes in the areas where it is enforced is as yet uncertain, as is the affect on tourism.
Rusty Ensign, council candidate
The repercussions of the loss of construction jobs will reverberate through the entire economy. Ironically all rental housing construction will cease in turn preventing the free market from addressing the need for housing. The city of West Kelowna will lose much needed DCC revenue in turn slowing or preventing much needed road and parks improvements for our citizens.
Philip Akins, council candidate
A big part of the reason for the high housing prices in West Kelowna is that we are an attractive vacation destination – something that we want to preserve and promote rather than discourage.
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