Backlash to speculation tax grows as West Kelowna asks to opt out

The municipality of West Kelowna has joined a growing backlash to the B.C. government’s real estate speculation tax with a demand that it be left out of that tax measure.

West Kelowna’s council, on Tuesday, voted unanimously for Mayor Doug Findlater to meet Premier John Horgan and B.C. Green party Leader Andrew Weaver to pressure government to exclude the Okanagan community from the new tax.

“We’re very concerned about the overall economic impact,” said Findlater. “We are fundamentally concerned this would push property values below the amount of equity people have in their homes. It’s a potential financial crisis.”

West Kelowna has a large number of part-time residents who will be impacted by the new annual levy, which targets unoccupied homes and secondary homes owned by people not paying income tax in B.C. It will start at 0.5 per cent in 2018 and increase to two per cent in 2019.

Findlater fears many of them may be forced to sell their homes in the face of thousands of dollars in new taxes, leaving a glut of homes on the market.

“The irony of this is, if they go through with it, the only people who will be able to afford really expensive places are the really wealthy who would buy them up at a fire sale price,” he said.

“People who picked up a modest place on the lake 20 years ago and kept it in the family are not going to be able to afford to keep them.”

West Kelowna, which incorporated 10 years ago, has a population of 35,000. It’s been trying to urbanize and development has been a boon to their growing community, said the mayor.

The shock waves from the tax, even before its implementation, can already be felt, said Findlater, with banks shying away from lending to developers. It could also affect …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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