It started with a “Stop the Speculation Tax” petition that was launched last month by disgruntled home owners opposing the province's proposed annual tax on underused second homes in areas across B.C.
Now, the petition group has banded together with chambers of commerce, tourism industry representatives, construction associations and development lobby groups to form a province-wide coalition and launch a campaign called “Scrap the Speculation Tax.”
The new coalition comprises the Kelowna, Namaimo and Peachland chambers of commerce, Tourism Victoria, the Canadian Home Builders Association’s Central Okanagan chapter, the Urban Development Institute’s Capital Region and Okanagan chapters, the Independent Contractors of British Columbia and the Stop the Speculation Tax petition group.
The coalition stated, “[The B.C. government] announced [the new tax] with the intention of trying to address housing affordability, but this patchwork tax will do the exact opposite. This tax will kill jobs, hurt the B.C. tourism industry and make the housing affordability issue worse. This tax doesn’t target real speculators, just hardworking BC and Canadian taxpayers. That’s why we’ve partnered with a broad coalition of impacted stakeholders, from tourism agencies to chambers of commerce and homebuilders to launch a Scrap the Speculation Tax Campaign.”
The group said it is asking the B.C. government for a new approach that, “Targets real speculators, not long-term homeowners, or out-of-province residents; protects our local tourism-dependant economies, like Kelowna and the South Island; reduces the cost of delivering housing units by exempting vacant development land; and exempts Canadian and B.C. taxpayers from this unfair tax.”
The campaign comes two weeks after finance minister Carole James announced a slew of amendments to the proposed tax. The changes reduced the tax to 0.5 per cent of the property’s value per year for B.C. residents, with the first $400,000 in value effectively exempt, and to one per cent for Canadians living outside of B.C. The changes also reduced the geographic reach of the tax, which under the current iteration will apply to Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, the Capital Region, Nanaimo-Lantzville, Kelowna and West Kelowna.
A poll held shortly after February's B.C. Budget announcement about the new speculation tax, and other housing taxation measures, found that more than 80 per cent of British Columbians were in favour of the new taxes.