To the editor:
New residents to Kelowna are shocked to find out how much the city taxes its residents, despite five significant years of a booming development and tourism economy.
Well, welcome to the new Kelowna.
Where the city is afraid and unwilling to tax its tourist and development industries. Where tourism is expected to grow to 3.5 million visitors by 2022. Where 2017 housing starts totalled 3,577 new residential units, of which 920 were single-family units and 2,654 multifamily units. Where 1,773 of these new units were rental units in buildings zoned for short-term tourist rental uses.
Where city staff proposes converting every home, townhouse, condo and apartment in the city to short-term Airbnb tourist rentals—despite the fact this will increase land, housing and rental costs and reduce long-term rental stock availability.
Where council reluctantly voted five to four this week to slow suburban growth in an effort to reduce its massive $478 million infrastructure deficit.
Where council allows its staff to propose an average 2019 tax hike of 2.5 per cent and, to add insult to injury, propose another 2 per cent infrastructure levy on all property owners to help reduce the deficit.
Where council has hiked the average home tax by more than 20 per cent in the five years since Mayor Colin Basran took office.
I wake up at night wishing this bad dream would go away. Or, that the mayor would order his staff to take the burden off taxpayers and put it on developers and tourists where it firmly belongs.