(from left) Tom Dyas, Bobby Gidda, Carmen Sparg, Justin O’Connor Photo by Sydney Morton

Kelowna Chamber of Commerce meets after Premier Horgan lands in Kelowna

The speculation tax was on the tip of everyone’s tongue

After Premier John Horgan’s quiet Monday meeting with Okanagan mayors Colin Basran and Doug Findlater, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce had a meeting of its own.

The Chamber is requesting that the provincial government complete a full impact study to understand the impact the tax will continue having on West Kelowna and Kelowna before implementation.

Related:FEATURE FRIDAY: Some have high hopes for the speculation tax

“I don’t think the government understands exactly what they are doing (to the city), the most important thing we need to do is a study because I don’t think anyone knows the impact it will have on West Kelowna and the other cities involved. Especially with Kelowna only being ten years old, we have a lot of growing to do as a city,” said Bobby Gidda, president and owner of Volcanic Hills and board of director for the Greater Westside Board of Trade.

The speculation tax as implemented is a wealth tax, said to Justin O’Connor, president of the Canadian Home builders association in the Okanagan and senior vice-president of sales for Sotheby’s Realty in Kelowna.

Related:Central Okanagan builds united front against speculation tax

“We would actually support a proper speculation tax or flipping tax if it was modeled correctly and if we knew what we were going to get. We would like to see any money that is derived from the tax spent on affordable housing programs in our community instead of, just being out in a general revenue account of the province of British Columbia,” O’Connor said.

The tax, and its economic implications, is sparking a lot of concern about the future of business in the affected cities.

Related:West Kelowna mayor blasts premier over speculation tax

“My real fear is that by the time an impact study is done to see what this impact will be, my real fear is that I won’t be around anymore so that won’t do me any good on a business level,” said Sandro DeAngelis, owner of Il Tavolino Italian Bistro.

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce would have liked to be invited to the meeting to share their experience and knowledge, to learn and come to a better understanding together.

Related:B.C.’s new speculation tax could delay massive Kelowna hotel project

“We would have like to have been in thee meeting today we feel like when you are making a change if this nature that is affecting so many industries, affecting employment, tourism, growth within our community and the ability for municipalities to fund their infrastructure improvements we feel that an invitation to us would have shown that there was an openness and transparency,”said Tom Dyas, past president of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

Related:Mayors to meet premier Monday to talk about speculation tax

No further meetings are scheduled between the mayors and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce for this point in time

A open town hall meeting is scheduled this Wednesday, June 13 at the Holiday Inn in West Kelowna. It starts at 6:30 p.m., where Mayor Doug Findlater will be present.

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