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Local Government Autonomy Undercut by Speculation Tax


Local Government Autonomy Undercut by Speculation Tax

Canada NewsWire

B.C. Mayors Ask Provincial Government to Stop the Speculation & Start the Collaboration

WHISTLER, BC, Sept. 12, 2018 /CNW/ - A diverse group of Mayors from across the province are calling on the B.C. government to halt the proposed Speculation Tax, saying it undermines municipal autonomy, fails to address housing affordability and unfairly punishes British Columbians.

"It's not a speculation tax as the B.C. Government would like you to believe and it needs to be modified or stopped," says Langford Mayor Stewart Young. "This unfair tax targets hard-working British Columbian and Canadian taxpayers, without any consideration for our local communities or local governments."

The five mayors spoke during the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler before signing an open letter to the province of BC asking that the proposed Speculation Tax be stopped.

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said the proposed tax treats communities unfairly.

"The City of Kelowna's concerns with the tax is that it won't actually address speculation and there will be other potential unintended consequences. I am also concerned that it's not equitable because it's not province wide – true speculators can simply purchase in neighbouring communities without contributing to the tax."

The proposed speculation tax is being introduced with no prior consultation with local government and it runs contrary to the principle of respect for local government as "An order of Government" as entrenched in B.C.'s Community Charter.

B.C. mayors strongly believe this tax will negatively affect all communities, not just those which have been specifically targeted.

"Although our community is not in the speculation tax zone, there is an undercurrent of uncertainty which is impacting our economy," says Clara Reinhardt, Mayor of Radium Hot Springs.

The mayors say the proposed Speculation Tax does little to address the broader issues that are driving home ownership beyond what average British Columbian families can afford.

"The City of West Kelowna has begun to experience economic setbacks directly resulting from the proposed Speculation Tax," says Mayor Doug Findlater. "As a young municipality, we simply can't afford to have our economy impacted by such a poorly-researched, arbitrary tax. Already, one developer has walked away from a comprehensive neighbourhood plan that was in the works for years and we are watching our building permit statistics drop. The Speculation Tax will do more harm than good."

The mayors of Langford, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Radium Hot Springs and Parksville call on the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Minister of Finance and the Province of British Columbia to, "stop the speculation and start the collaboration" with local governments, the small business community, and other stakeholders in developing a comprehensive approach to making housing more affordable for all British Columbians while continuing to be a province that welcomes investment from other Canadians.

As Mayor Marc Lefebvre of Parksville says: "The speculation tax is proven to be bad for all businesses and sends a negative message to people wishing to invest in our community."

"The speculation tax is not planned to be implemented in our city but the mere mention of it has already had a negative impact on development in the area that largely depends on investors from outside B.C.," says Vernon.

Mayor Akbal Mund. "The tax is seen as a tax on assets and many Canadians from outside B.C. think it is unfair even though they pay their share of federal taxes. We don't see how the proposed tax will help us in our efforts to make housing more affordable for average families in our community."

The joint letter, signed by the mayors, is being sent to the Premier of British Columbia, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

SOURCE Doug Findlater, Mayor of West Kelowna

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