Councillor wants Saanich excluded from speculation tax

Coun. Leif Wergeland wants the provincial government to exempt Saanich from the speculation tax.

A Saanich councillor wants the provincial government to exclude Saanich from the provincial speculation tax.

“It’s less about creating affordable housing, and more about a tax grab,” said Coun. Leif Wergeland after filing a notice of motion that calls on Saanich to send a letter seeking the municipality’s exclusion from the tax.

It requires B.C. residents to pay a tax of 0.5 per cent on second or vacation homes valued at $400,000 or above if their owners do not rent them out for at least six months of the year, for periods of at least 30 days. Homes under $400,000 will be exempt in order to ensure that most cabins are not caught in the tax, according to Finance Minister Carole James.

Canadians from outside the province will have to pay 0.5 per cent this year and one per cent thereafter. Non-Canadian residents will have to pay 0.5 per cent this year and two per cent thereafter, as under the initial iteration of the tax, which enjoys some support among social scientists.

B.C. income taxpayers who are paying the 0.5 per cent annual tax will still be eligible for a credit to offset their speculation tax bill, and the provincial government has said that 99 per cent of residents will not pay the tax.

It is not clear how many Saanich residents are subject to the speculation tax by virtue of owning a second home in Saanich or elsewhere. It is equally unknown how many Saanich homes are second or vacation homes.

Wergeland said the actual number is irrelevant. What is at stake is the principle of the provincial government punishing individuals for failing to rent out their homes, said Wergeland, who described the tax as a form of provincial downloading. Canadians who have worked hard to have a second home, or contractors who are refurbishing a home for the purpose of selling it, are not speculators, he said.

The tax is punishing successful individuals, when it should be valuing them, said Wergeland. “I would say good on them [for having a second home],” said Wergeland, who would not be subject to the tax.

Wergeland also said he considers the tax a roadblock to innovation that could ripple through the economy, in questioning the economic management skills of the provincial government.

“I don’t think they [the government] understand the value of development,” he said.

Council will consider Wergeland’s notice of motion at its next regular meeting.

So what odds does Wergeland give his initiative? He said he would not have filed the notice if he did not think it had a chance to secure passage.

Wergeland’s motion is the latest regional critique of the speculation tax. Sidney and Langford have already voiced their opposition. If Saanich were to join this chorus, it could sent a powerful signal as provincewide efforts to scrap the tax are gaining steam as a coalition of affected communities and industries have joined forces to lobby the provincial government, and more importantly, public opinion.

Ultimately, Wergeland believes the provincial government will scrap the tax.

“I’d be surprised if they didn’t,” he said.

Just Posted

Saanich council approves rural subdivision despite staff and public opposition

Critics say it will lead to urban sprawl, while supporters cite the need for housing

Victoria BC Transit driver taken to hospital after assault

Driver attempted to stop an altercation between two people on the bus

How a scrawny kid from Oak Bay bulked into one of rugby sevens’ best

Doing it for Dylan, Oak Bay’s Connor Braid at the top of his game

CRD’s 2019 financial plan includes 23 per cent increase for capital projects

Housing, health care and wastewater projects included in 2019 plan

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Most Read