Letter: Speaking in favour of the speculation tax

Kelowna letter-writer says the reaction of city council is disappointing

To the editor:

I support the speculation tax for the city of Kelowna. As stated in Kelowna’s city staff report of March 2018, less than one percent of residential properties will be affected.

Kelowna is enduring a housing crisis. Many workers, students, and families are either living in overpriced, overcrowded rentals, or are leaving or not moving to Kelowna due to a housing shortage.

The tax poses a very minor risk to real estate sales; the estimate from city staff is between 50 and 75 condo unit sales will not occur as a result of the tax.

These condo units would, presumably, become homes for local residents. This sales projection does not, in any reasonable way, contribute to wild panic that a huge loss in construction jobs and tourism will result. The loss of 50 to 75 condos of tourists, who are here for less than a year, will not destroy our local economy. Locals, living here, making wages, and going for dinner, drinks, and golf 12 months a year will most certainly help our economy.

This tax, however, is not only an economic issue. It is a tax about values. I believe that owning two or more houses is a pleasant luxury. Living in one safe shelter is not a luxury. I believe that taxes on luxuries are not punitive. I believe taxes bring all earners into a just society. I pay more income tax now, as a professor, than I did when I worked in downtown Kelowna, in the early 90s, as a waitress. I am proud to pay taxes to support my community.

Some criticism of the tax cries out that wealthy people are being punished; that view of taxation does have some history, though I’m not sure it is a side of history the wealthy would like to align themselves with. Robin Hood was the good guy, you may recall.

I support this tax. I am extremely disappointed in my city and regional leadership for claiming they represent a united front against this tax.

I see no evidence that they sought out specific consultation with teachers, workers, or community groups. I also am disappointed at the lack of respect given to the report on this issue by the city of Kelowna’s own staff, whose work concludes that this tax will have minimal impact on the real estate market, but will contribute to solving the problem of homelessness.

Norah Bowman, Kelowna

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