Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran speaks to reporters outside Kelowna City Hall earlier this year after the province tweaked its planned speculation tax. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Despite legislation to introduce it, Kelowna plans to keep up call to scrap speculation tax

City says it will keep working with other municipalities affected by the tax

The City of Kelowna says it plans to continue its fight against the B.C. government’s speculation tax, despite legislation being introduced earlier this week to bring in the tax.

The city says it still will work with other municipalities—such as West Kelowna, the only other Interior municipality affected—to demonstrate how the tax will not meet the provincial government’s stated objective of making more affordable housing units available to Kelowna residents.

The proposed tax ranges from 0.5 per cent on secondary homes left vacant by B.C. residents, to two per cent on foreign-owned properties.

Kelowna and West Kelowna have made their concerns well known to Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James ever since the tax was proposed in March but their protests have fallen on deaf ears.

Those concerns include the potential for unintended consequences on their local economies and the proposed legislation’s lack of actual impact on housing speculation. The city is also concerned the tax is not equitable due to its limited geographic nature – true speculators can simply purchase in neighbouring communities that are not impacted by the legislation.

RELATED: Battle resumes over speculation tax on B.C. vacant homes

The tax is only slated for the Lower Mainland, the Fraser Valley, the Greater Victoria and Nanaimo areas,Kelonwa and West Kelowna.

“The Union of B.C. Municipalities’ report, A Home for Everyone, provides well-researched, data-based recommendations to manage actual speculative housing activity, rather than simply taxing homes that are vacant or used occasionally,” said the city’s director of strategic investment Johannes Saufferer.

The introduction of the tax bill prompted an immediate demand from the Opposition to scrap the tax.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson referred to mayors who objected to the tax at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, calling it a “fake” tax that has targeted mostly B.C. residents and caused new housing developments to be cancelled.

James has stressed that people can avoid the tax by renting out their second residence for half the year or more.

RELATED: Mayors call for changes to speculation tax

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver was among the critics who had some rural areas on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands removed from the tax area. He said earlier this week he is still concerned that the tax may land on property owners who are not speculators.

“I have been raising numerous examples of homeowners who are not speculators who are being unfairly impacted by this tax, and I will be looking to see whether government has addressed these concerns,” Weaver said after the legislation was presented in the B.C. Legislature.

“In addition, I have raised concerns about the impact of this tax on land under development and its implementation in stratas with no-rental clauses.”

The City of Kelowna, while still opposed to the tax, says if it foes ahead as planned, some of the new revenue generated by it should remain in the community to deal with the municipal impacts associated with housing affordability and homelessness.

The city says it supports many of the efforts the government is making to address homelessness and housing affordability, such as the addition of 114,000 rental units across B.C. over the next 10 years. Eight-eight units of supportive housing are currently under construction in the city and another 100 are expected by 2019.

“But we need to use good data to guide policy development and decision making. In the case of any new tax policy, we support a full economic analysis prior to implementation,” said Saufferer.

(With files from Black Press Victoria correspondent Tom Fletcher.)

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna 4th worst city in B.C. for homeless deaths

A report from BC Coroners Service reveals the most recent numbers from 2007 to 2016

Record rotary auction makes Okanagan dreams come true

Kalamalka Rotary Club donates more than $194,000

Indigenous students recognized at ceremony at Okanagan College

The ceremony recognizes that students are getting an education while holding onto Indigenous background and teachings

Okanagan College Coyotes kick off season

The Coyotes enter the 2019 CCBC season with a battle against Edmonton on Saturday

Canada Finance Minister to promote budget in Kelowna

Bill Morneau will speak in Kelowna

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Update: Highway 3 near Keremeos open to alternating traffic

Details scarce about collision that has closed Highway 3 west of Keremeos

Okanagan librarian delves into trio of titles

Book Talk: Dark Matter, Lincoln’s Dreams and The Jealous Kind

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in B.C. Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

Most Read