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Speculators could invest in Lake Country

There could be an increased interest with the new speculation tax in Kelowna, said a realtor

Speculators could take an interest in Lake Country after the implementation of the province’s new speculation tax.

The tax was announced in the provincial government’s recent budget and includes Kelowna and West Kelowna, but not Peachland or Lake Country.

The new tax, effective this year, targets foreign and domestic speculators in certain areas of B.C.

A non-refundable income tax credit will be imposed on non-owner occupied, vacant and short-term rental properties in West Kelowna, Kelowna, Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and the Capital and Nanaimo Regional Districts on Vancouver Island that are owned by individuals who do not live in B.C.

“In 2018, the tax rate will be $5 per $1,000 of assessed value. In 2019, the rate will increase to $20 per $1,000 of assessed value,” said the Ministry of Finance in a statement.

Petrina Koltun, a realtor with Royal Le Page Kelowna Lake Country, said the speculation tax will create an increased interest in Lake Country.

“So when people are reading the news, they can see Lake Country and Penticton are exempt from it, so the people that aren’t from here, most of them don’t even know where Lake Country is, so I believe people are going to have an increased awareness (when buyers realize it’s only 10 minutes away.)”

With the traffic in Kelowna, more people are looking to Lake Country for living the healthy outdoor lifestyle, she said.

However, one of her deals collapsed because of concern about the tax coming to Lake Country.

Lake Country Mayor James Baker agrees the tax could encourage speculators to purchase in Lake Country.

But there are also other reasons for people to buy in Lake Country, he said.

“People could have a good reason to buy here that’s not speculation, but who determines that?”

Tanya Garost, chief financial officer for the district, said it’s too soon for the district to estimate if it will be affected by its neighbour’s new tax.

However, the calls from Alberta she’s received have been positive.

“They are extremely happy the speculation tax is not affecting Lake Country,” she said.

About 13.5 per cent of Lake Country houses are not owned by primary residents, said Jamie McEwan, community development manager.

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