West Kelowna residents raise concerns over spec tax

Over 200 West Kelowna residents gathered at a town hall meeting Wednesday night to address their concerns over the NDP’s proposed speculation tax.

The tax would apply to home owners with more than one residence, and would charge more from home owners who live out of province. Approximately 600 properties in West Kelowna would qualify for the tax.

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, Kelowna West MLA Ben Stewart, CAO Jim Zaffino, Kevin Edgecombe of Edgecombe Builders Group, and Tyler Neels of Grant Thornton LLP answered questions and heard stories from over a dozen attendees.

Many said that the tax, which would cost the average out-of-town homeowner $17,000 annually, would force them to either sell or rent out their West Kelowna properties.

“We had some, as I called them, “human wreckage stories,” people who just don’t know what to do because they’re going to get caught in (the tax) some way,” says Findlater.

Kevin Edgecombe stated that the impending tax has already affected new developments in the area.

“I’ve learned of a tremendous amount of cancellations of projects,” says Edgecombe. “I know one designer in Kelowna that has lost 25 jobs since the tax was announced.”

The Goat's Peak project in West Kelowna, which would have housed over 1,000 residents, has also been put on hold indefinitely, with the developers saying they wouldn't proceed with it until there was a change in government.

Findlater recently spoke with Premier John Horgan in an effort to exempt West Kelowna from the tax. While he seemed confident that Horgan was receptive to his concerns, it’s unknown at this time whether or not the City will be exempt.

Ben Stewart reaffirmed during Wednesday’s meeting that getting rid of the speculation tax would be a top priority if the Liberals ever came into power in BC.