B.C. Premier John Horgan met with the mayors of Kelowna and West Kelowna on Monday to discuss the proposed speculation tax. Photo: Contributed

NDP seem set on speculation tax

Kelowna and West Kelowna mayors pitch premier on tax exclusion

Premier John Horgan dampened the hope that his NDP government will exclude Kelowna and West Kelowna from the highly contentious speculation tax on real estate.

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater met with Horgan on Monday morning, and Basran said he came away feeling the premier was “pretty locked in” on the speculation tax.

“I’m not feeling overly optimistic at this point but we’ll have to wait and see. I am not giving up on this yet,” Basran said.

“There is still time as the legislation for the tax is likely to be introduced in September or October.”

Related: Mayors to talk speculation tax with premier

Basran said Horgan indicated he would pass their concerns on to Finance Minister Carole James for her further consideration.

Basran said he made the arguments about the Kelowna rental housing construction boom, with some 3,000 units already either under construction or the planning stage, which he feels negates the need for the tax, and how other incentives could be offered to encourage more affordable housing development.

Related: West Kelowna mayor blasts premier over speculation tax

Basran said he is worried about how the speculation tax will impact the housing market, a strong economic indicator for both West Kelowna and Kelowna, and leave potential tourists from outside the province who either own or are thinking about buying property here feeling not welcome and choose to spend their tourism dollars elsewhere.

“I think there is a way to deal with people who flip houses for profit, mechanisms for adding a tax on the profits, but the premier didn’t seen to have an appetite to go there,” Basran said.

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