Sunday, October 21, 2018

Liberals remain opposed to B.C.’s speculation tax


Kelowna West MLA Ben Stewart doesn’t like the deal the NDP and Green party reached this week on B.C.’s proposed speculation tax.
The Greens, whose support the NDP government needs to stay in power, will propose three amendments when the tax bill gets to committee stage next week. They include an annual meeting between the minister of finance and mayors in the affected areas to review the tax, funds from the tax being directed to affordable housing projects in the impacted regions, and reducing the tax rate for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who reside outside B.C. to 0.5 per cent.
Stewart said Andrew Weaver, leader of the Green party, spoke against the tax all summer.
Weaver had wanted a meeting with Stewart but cancelled.
“We can’t count on him as a reliable partner,” said Stewart, who was giving an MLA update at the Club 17 Seniors Centre Friday morning in Kelowna.
The BC Liberals are considering whether they should propose amendments as well.
“We’re not happy with it,” Stewart said about the tax, noting housing starts in the Kelowna area are down over 60 per cent and down 43 per cent across the province.
“That’s not all just a slowdown in the economy,” he said. “That’s because of uncertainty.”
Stewart said one of the problems with the tax is that it assumes the vacancy rate in the Kelowna area is .02 per cent.
However, there is no information about whether the tax would come off if the vacancy rate rises to two or three per cent.
“This is not a speculation tax. It’s a wealth tax,” he said, noting he agreed with West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, who pointed out there are better, more effective ways to attack speculation.
Stewart also talked about proportional representation, telling the crowd the opposition never got to participate in the process.

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