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Vernon council rips into ‘appalling’ spec tax

The taxing on a home that isn’t occupied for more than 6 months is expected to come into play in 2025
Vernon council will respond to a proposal to build a large housing development in Vernon at its next meeting Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. (Siegrist Architecture photo)

Council members in Vernon eviscerated the incoming provincial speculation tax that will be coming to the Vernon and Coldstream area in 2025.

As a last minute addendum to the council minutes at the Monday, Nov. 27 meeting, Mayor Victor Cumming brought up the provincial speculation tax as an item for discussion.

Previously, the tax was applied to areas like Kelowna and Vancouver, but it will now be expanded to 13 additional communities; Vernon, Coldstream, Penticton, Summerland, Lake Country, Peachland, Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Salmon Arm and Kamloops.

Residential property owners in these communities will need to declare for the first time in January of 2025 based on how they used their property in 2024.

“This doesn’t give us a lot of time,” said Cumming, as he suggested in reaching out to staff regarding the areas in which the tax will apply, along with passing the information onto the provincial Minister of Finance.

Councillor Brian Quiring called the tax a “double whammy,” for the Vernon area.

“When you consider the short term rental legislation in conjunction with the speculation tax. They (provincial government) are expected to exempt resort communities but what are we? It is going to absolutely hammer us in terms of our local economy.”

Coun. Teresa Durning echoed Quiring’s statement, saying that she is “absolutely appalled by the government’s overreach. The impact on tourism (will be) absolutely astronomical, another overreach by the province.”

According to Coun. Kari Gares, the rationale the government uses to get houses on the market to provide affordable housing is misguided.

“A $2 million home on the lake is not something the average person can occupy,” Gares said. “This is the part that is baffling. If the premise was to get regular homes on the market for average people, the vast majority of these new homes that will be gobbled up in this legislation fall completely outside this realm. This is nothing more than just to tax someday to fill the coffers.”

Also expressing his displeasure with the tax was Coun. Akbal Mund.

“I think it is a tax grab,” Mund said. “It doesn’t make any sense. If anyone form the government came to Vernon for the summer they would realize that half the people here are from Alberta. We are all a resort community, the entire Okanagan is.”

A motion for a letter to the Minister of Finance and Housing was carried after the discussion.

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Bowen Assman

About the Author: Bowen Assman

I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna.
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