Carole James and Andrew Weaver speak to the changes in the speculation tax at the B.C. Legislature. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Kelowna job market taking a hit due to speculation tax: CHBA

CHBA-CO said the tax has led to a 22 per cent cut in residential construction work in Kelowna

The speculation and vacancy tax has generated $115 million for the province in the 2018-19 fiscal year but the local homebuilders association said that it is coming at the cost of jobs.

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association of the Central Okanagan said residential construction jobs have been hit hard, seeing a 22 per cent reduction in Kelowna, a 17 per cent reduction in West Kelowna and a 12 per cent reduction in Nanaimo.

Cassidy deVeer, president of the association, said Kelowna has lost 3,000 jobs since the tax was implemented.

“We are highlighting the job reductions in our industry since the Speculation Tax was introduced to show its impact,” said deVeer. “It has harmed specific areas like Kelowna and West Kelowna and has driven growth in other communities like Kamloops and Penticton.”

On the other hand, Kamloops has seen the opposite effect. DeVeer said the city has seen a 35 per cent increase in jobs and a 30 per cent increase in vacant homes.

On Thursday, Sept. 12, the mayors of both Kelowna and West Kelowna met with Carole James, B.C.’s Minister of Finance to discuss the tax. Both mayors have opposed the tax in the past.

“The Speculation Tax affects Kelowna and West Kelowna directly and we think the people of the Central Okanagan deserve an answer on what the Finance Minister is doing about job reductions,” said deVeer.

“These lost jobs are not wealthy or foreign people which the tax is advertised to be targeting. These people are the working middle class and now they are out of a job in our community”

The tax is meant to target vacant properties and properties owned by real estate speculators and raise revenue that will directly support affordable housing.

READ MORE: Kelowna Tolko mill shut down for ‘indeterminate’ amount of time

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