- Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Worry mounts in West Kelowna over speculation tax

Developer not backing away from decision to walk away from large housing project

Steven Henderson is not backing down in his decision to pull the Goat’s Peak development in West Kelowna.

The loss of a 1,000-unit housing development that would include an elementary school site, parkand and space for commercial businesses, has been a tough loss for West Kelowna due to the province’s planned speculation tax.

After a long and drawn out 15-year process of getting approval and confirming building plans, Henderson is walking away from the project.

“It’s not like we just came to town, we have been working on this for a very long time and now we are faced with a market place that is uncertain about how the speculation tax is going to apply to vacant property such as ours,” Henderson said.

Related:West Kelowna mayor blasts premier over speculation tax

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said the loss of Goat’s Peak will deprive the city of a great deal of new construction revenue. The young city of West Kelowna has not built up the same level of reserves older municipalities have to offset the loss of revenue Goat’s Peak would have generated.

“This tax will have a major impact on West Kelowna,” Findlater said. “If new development disappears, it will really hurt us.”

As a result, West Kelowna council has authorized the mayor to draft a letter to the the premier expressing the city’s concern about the adverse impacts of the tax on the city, and outlining the reasons why.

Related:Mayors of Kelowna and West Kelowna react to speculation tax

The city is also pursuing a freedom of information bid to find out what criteria was used to include West Kelowna in the list of municipalities where the speculation tax will be implemented.

On May 25, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce presented it’s Anti-Canadian Tariff – Pressing the Pause Button on BC’s Proposed Speculation Tax policy proposal,” at the 2018 B.C. Chamber of Commerce’s policy conference in Kamloops. It was met with unanimous support.

Adopting the new policy will be a priority of the B.C. chamber during discussions with Finance Minister Carole James.

“We’re more than pleased at the response of our chamber colleagues in supporting this policy—taking a strong message to the provincial government to study, clarify, and consult prior to legislating,” Carmen Sparg, president of the Kelowna chamber said.

Related:Central Okanagan builds united front against speculation tax

The Kelowna chamber is calling for the cancellation of what it considers the “mis-named” speculation tax.

It also wants the government to establish “clear parameters and key performance indicators that determine whether the tax, as put in place, is temporary.”

“Does it actually create affordable housing and will it be removed if local indicators (not yet determined) improve.”

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