VICTORIA (March 5, 2019) – Another B.C. mayor has come forward to say the NDP threatened his community after expressing concern over the misguided Speculation Tax.
Last month, Belcarra mayor Neil Belenkie addressed media, bringing attention to the undue stress and anxiety that the NDP’s Speculation Tax has placed on local families. The tax will unfairly apply to the many summer cabins in Belcarra that have been family retreats for generations and cannot be feasibly rented out. This prompted Mayor Belenkie to follow cities like Langford and Kelowna in requesting a formal exemption from the Speculation Tax for his community.
“My message to the government was that this tax is hitting people without the cash to pay it,” said Belenkie. “My constituents aren’t rich, and these cabins have no rental value. But they refused to listen and threatened to punish my community if I continued to raise concerns.”
Mayor Belenkie cited Lions Bay as an example as to why Belcarra should also receive an exemption. Housing Minister Selina Robinson replied that his complaints jeopardized Lions Bay’s exemption. Local MLA Rick Glumac then added that Belenkie was risking the support that his community currently receives from the province although was unable to name a single supportive initiative. Glumac went on to say that Belcarra’s relationship with the province would become much more “difficult” if Belcarra continued to protest.
On top of the discussions with Minister Robinson and MLA Glumac, Mayor Belenkie also met with Finance Minister Carole James on March 1st. She made it clear that Belcarra will not receive an exemption and that the cottage owners will have to pay the “speculation” tax.
These events follow a disturbing trend that began early in the NDP government when an aide to Minister James threatened Langford Mayor Stew Young. The Mayor was told in front of witnesses that his community would be included in the tax if he continued to publicly speak out against it. The Mayor continued to voice concerns, and Langford is now subject to the NDP Speculation Tax.
“This kind of bullying and intimidation is totally unacceptable,” said Opposition Leader Andrew Wilkinson. “Mayors have the right to speak out on behalf of their citizens without fear of reprisals from the NDP government. British Columbians who are currently exempt should be very worried – one wrong word and they could get hit with an enormous tax bill in 2020.”