Speculation tax town hall meeting scheduled in West Kelowna

The controversial impending property tax will be discussed June 13

They did it in Kelowna earlier his year. Now it’s West Kelowna’s turn.

A town hall meeting will be held June 13 to discuss the province’s plan to introduce what it is calling a speculation tax on owners of secondary property in a select number of municipalities in B.C., including West Kelowna.

The tax has been slammed by the West Kelowna city council and city officials, saying it will not only reduce development but will also hurt economic growth in the city, and could have an impact on jobs and other industries in West Kelowna.

The tax would impose a 0.5 per cent levy on B.C. owners of secondary property in the province and owners from out-of-province, both Canadians and foreigners. Out of province Canadians with B.C. property would pay a one per cent levy and foreign owners a two per cent levy.

Opponents of the tax say the spectre of its introduction alone has already hurt the economy of West Kelowna.

One developer has shelved plans for a 1,000-unit housing project citing the impending impact of the tax as the reason.

The upcoming town hall is billed as an opportunity to educate the public about the tax and give members of the public an opportunity to discuss the with local MLA Ben Stewart, Mayor Doug Findlater, Kevin Edgecombe of the Urban Development Institute, Tyler Neels of Grant Thornton accountants and Jim Zaffino, West Kelowna’s chief administrative officer. Stewart, Findlater, Edgecombe and Zaffino have all publicly stated opposition to the tax.

Advertisements for the town hall say the organizers want to hear the public’s stories about how the tax will impact them, their businesses and their families.

A similar town hall meeting was hosted by Stewart and Kelowna’s two other B.C. Liberal MLAs, Norm Letnick and Steve Thompson, earlier this year and turned into a stream of complaints, criticism and opposition to the tax. Only two people spoke in favour of the tax at that meeting, and they were booed and shouted down by the large crowd on hand without the moderator intervening.

The West Kelowna town hall meeting, hosted by the Greater Westside Board of Trade, is scheduled for June 13 at the Holiday Inn Hotel in West Kelowna, starting at 6:30 p.m.

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