Spec Tax Meeting Tonight

The Greater Westside Board of Trade is hosting a public town hall meeting about the Speculation Tax tonight.

The public will be able to ask a panel of experts, including MLA Ben Stewart, West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, Kevin Edgecombe of the Urban Development Institute, Tyler Neels from Grant Thornton Canada and Jim Zaffino, CAO for the City of West Kelowna.

The province is planning to impose the tax in the fall, restricting the amount of time that a property can remain empty before additional taxes are levied.

Doug Findlater told The Early Edition on AM 1150 the biggest downside of the spec tax is uncertainty.  “New construction to put more housing on the market is slowing down, if not coming to a halt.  Banks are withdrawing their financial support and developers are not willing to take the risk at this time.”

Findlater added, the major reason he's been pushing Premier John Horgan and the NDP Government to remove the spec tax from West Kelowna is the damage it will do to City revenue.  “We’ve seen that already.  We’ve lost a 1000 home development, the Goat’s Peak Development.  That would’ve added in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in tax base.”

Lost DCCs are also being seen as a big hit to the community. “Development Cost Charges are fees to help pay for the infrastructure…so that the existing residential homeowner doesn’t have to pay it.  Sewers, water, parks, sidewalks, all of those kind of things, plus we can require developers to put in certain amenities.  We’ve asked them to change the road as well as put in sidewalks.  In the case of Goat’s Peak, that included a school site for a new school that somewhere along the line somebody would otherwise have to pay for,” explained Findlater.

Tonight's meeting is at the West Kelowna Holiday Inn, on Dobbin Road at 6:30.  Doors at 6.