NDP and Greens vote down opt-out clause for municipalities impacted by Speculation Tax

VICTORIA (November 26, 2018) – The NDP has pushed through flawed legislation that ignores local mayors and forces British Columbians to pay tax on hard-earned savings like family cabins.

“I think that most British Columbians would agree we need effective measures to curb foreign speculation, but once again, the NDP misses the mark with another heavy-handed tax,” said BC Liberal Finance Co-Critic Shirley Bond. “This tax will be paid for by British Columbians and the impacts felt in the communities they live in, which is why we introduced amendments to this bill that were completely ignored by the NDP and Greens.”

The Finance Minister has ignored months of calls from municipalities to allow an opt-out clause to mitigate the devastating local consequences of the Speculation Tax. Several amendments were tabled by the BC Liberals last week, including one that would have provided an opt-out clause, which the NDP and Greens voted unanimously against. An exemption for British Columbians over the age of 55, who had owned an existing property over 10 years, was also defeated.

“Local governments sent a pretty clear message to the NDP this fall that the Speculation Tax is bad tax policy and needs to be re-thought,” said BC Liberal Finance Co-Critic Tracy Redies. “Municipalities want an opt-out clause in order to protect their communities, yet the NDP is only offering an annual meeting to ‘review’ the tax. It’s no wonder there is widespread confusion that’s costing jobs and worst of all, killing new housing starts that would increase desperately needed supply.”

“This tax already has a negative effect in Langford and city council does not support it. Langford is the fourth most affordable community in the province and continues to build more affordable housing than any other municipality in the region,” said the Mayor of Langford, Stewart Young. “Municipalities must be given the ability to opt out of the Speculation Tax. It will reduce investment, kill jobs and devalue homes – an annual review is pointless. The City of Langford will continue to fight against any tax that is not required and threatens Langford’s economy and jobs for our citizens.”

“In West Kelowna, our housing starts dropped very significantly in the first half of 2018,” says former West Kelowna mayor and now councillor Doug Findlater. “While we saw a bit of a rebound in the third quarter, our construction industry remains constrained by the Speculation Tax. When construction is down, jobs are lost, new homes are not built and there is reduced housing supply. I will also add that municipal revenue is reduced at a time when senior levels of government are downloading other taxation and responsibilities onto local government. The Speculation Tax has had a negative impact on West Kelowna and we remain very opposed to it.”

The Speculation Tax is retroactive to January 1st, 2018.

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