Earlier this month I was very critical, of the government’s ill thought through attempts to curb speculation in the housing market. In fact, I was entirely unsure as to what outcomes the government was seeking with the introduction of their so-called “speculation tax”. To the government’s credit, the Minister of Finance declared that she was willing to listen to British Columbians and make adjustments to her proposed policies. This was the opening that we were looking for.
Over the last few weeks we worked hard to solicit, listen to, and respond to the concerns of British Columbians about this tax. We brought these concerns directly to the table with the NDP and worked closely with them to identify and offer solutions to many of the unforeseen consequences that had arisen. In particular,
Yesterday Carole James, the Minister of Finance, announced revisions to the proposed speculation tax that will be introduced this fall. While the BC Greens would have taken much more aggressive action focused largely on foreign capital through a New Zealand style offshore buyers ban, as well as targetting speculation through a flipping tax and closing the bare trust loophole on residential sales, the government’s proposed changes go a long way to dealing with a number of concerns with the tax.
Below I reproduce the Media Statement that we released in response to the proposed government changes.
B.C. Green Caucus responds to government’s speculation tax changes
For immediate release
March 26, 2018
VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, issued the following statement in response to the government’s announced changes to the speculation tax.
“It’s a positive sign that this government is willing to listen to British Columbians and to make adjustments to policies,” said Weaver.
“In a minority government, we have an opportunity to do things differently by collaborating to improve public policy. We worked hard to champion British Columbians’ concerns and bring forth evidence-based solutions to this policy’s shortcomings. We agree with the B.C. NDP that we need to take action to address speculation in our real estate market. However, we have been clear that we needed to see changes to this tax in order to support the forthcoming legislation. In particular, the government’s policy must target speculation and empty homes in our urban centres without undue adverse effects on rural areas and on British Columbians who aren’t speculators.
“These changes go a long way to dealing with our initial concerns with the tax – they make it much more targeted and limit the effects on British Columbians with vacation homes. We look forward to the full details of the legislation to ensure it truly limits unintended consequences. We will continue to advocate for bolder policies to address speculation, including a flipping tax, the closing of the bare trust loophole and a New Zealand-style ban on foreign capital.”
Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands added that he was pleased that many of his constituents’ concerns were addressed.
“I heard from many concerned Gulf Islanders who were worried about how the speculation tax might impact them and we kept pressure on the government to address these issues,” said Olsen.
“I’m glad that the government has recognized that this tax doesn’t make sense for rural areas like the Gulf Islands. The diversity of concerns in my riding demonstrates the need for a nuanced approach to the housing crisis. We have serious housing challenges in the Gulf Islands that need to be addressed, while recognizing that seasonal residents are valuable members of the community who contribute to the local economy. I will continue to work closely with the communities in my riding to bring locally-appropriate solutions to the table.”
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
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