Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran speaks to reporters outside Kelowna City Hall Tuesday. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Kelowna mayor still opposed to B.C’s new speculation tax despite tweaks

Colin Basran says tax, as proposed, is ‘fundamentally’ the wrong way to go

Kelowna’s mayor says tweaks made to the province’s controversial speculation tax earlier this week are a good first step but his council is still opposed to the tax and would prefer to see a true property “flipping” tax instead.

Mayor Colin Basran reiterated his earlier stance that the speculation tax is “fundamentally the wrong way to go” Tuesday when he met with the media outside city hall.

“I think it will open up a few homes for people who are looking for them but I think those positives will be far outweighed by the negative consequences,” said Basran in response the Finance Minister Carole James changes to the speculation tax on Monday.

Those changes include keeping the tax at 0.5 pr cent for British Columbian property owners but only raising it to one per cent for out-of-province Canadian owners in 2019 and keeping the planned two per cent increase for foreign investors.

The tax will also no longer apply to properties in the Gulf Islands, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Bowen Island or in the rural Fraser Valley. It will still apply in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Metro Vancouver, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission, and the the Capital Regional District (excluding the Gulf Islands), Nanaimo, Lantzville on Vancouver Island.

Properties worth less than $400,000 owned by British Columbians will also be exempt, along with properties rented for more than six months of the year.

Basran said the announcement of the tax alone has already impacted some development plans in Kelowna and said he has heard from some developers they will not come to his city to build projects.

The mayor is continuing to press for meetings with James and Premier John Horgan to argue his case against the speculation tax being applied to Kelowna, but so far has come up empty. Last week, West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater did get a meeting with James about the tax and requested West Kelowna be excluded.

But earlier this week James said both Kelowna and West Kelowna will remain in.

Both Basran and Findlater said they are worried the tax will adversely affect the economies of their cities, hitting the housing market, construction, development, jobs and tourism hard.

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