VICTORIA (July 16, 2019) – John Horgan and the NDP are breaking a key commitment to meet and listen to mayors with serious concerns about their government’s new speculation tax by delaying a long-promised meeting. The meeting was announced in a joint press conference between Finance Minister Carole James and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver last October.
“The finance minister gave mayors the false hope that specific issues related to their municipalities would be given due consideration within a reasonable length of time,” says Finance Co-Critic Shirley Bond, MLA for Prince George-Valemount. “Mayors were expecting to meet with the minister by the end of June or July at the latest, but Carole James is now kicking the can two months down the road, pretty much ensuring that no changes to the speculation tax will be included in the fiscal framework of the next provincial budget.”
“Municipal leaders like Belcarra Mayor Neil Belenkie have been trying to get the finance minister’s attention for the better part of the year. This latest delay is typical of a poorly conceived, half-baked tax that is fundamentally unfair on numerous levels,” says Finance Co-Critic Tracy Redies, MLA for Surrey-White Rock. “Local mayors are not being given the opportunity to voice their concerns until it is too late for any meaningful changes.”
“In the case of my community, Belcarra meets and exceeds the very same criteria that exempted other parts of the province, yet the speculation tax is still being improperly applied against our residents,” says Belcarra Mayor Neil Belenkie. “I need to convey this message to the finance minister at the earliest possible time before our residents receive any more tax bills on remote recreational properties that some people have had in the family for over 60 years. I’m worried that our message won’t get through before another tax year rolls around.”
“We have the same problem with un-winterized cabins at Crescent Beach in my own community,” adds Redies. “We are talking about recreational properties that are not suitable as rental stock, yet owners are being treated as real estate speculators and unfairly taxed. This practice will continue for another tax year unless the minister takes immediate action.”
Finance Minister Carole James originally stated that the legislated meeting with the mayors of the taxed regions would occur at the end of June or in July of this year.