‘Not well thought out:’ Arizona family slams B.C. speculation tax

American family spends half the year in vacation home on Vancouver Island

Bryant Stooks and his family have been coming to B.C. for nearly a quarter century.

The residents of the Scottsdale, Ariz., area have spent dozens of summers on southern Vancouver Island and planned to enjoy dozens more – until they heard about the B.C. NDP government’s new speculation tax.

“The speculation tax, when you get to two per cent year after year, becomes so onerous that it just becomes too expensive as compared to where you might otherwise have a vacation home,” Stooks told Black Press Media by phone from Arizona.

“It kind of forces you out.”

The NDP announced the tax as part of the 2018 budget in mid-February. Finance Minister Carol James said it would start at 0.5 per cent on the value of the home this fall, and rise to two per cent the following year, hitting everyone who owns property – but doesn’t pay provincial income taxes– in the Lower Mainland, the Capital Regional District, the Nanaimo Regional District, Kelowna and West Kelowna.

The plan is so far short on details, but James later confirmed the tax will also apply to vacation homes owned by Canadians from other provinces – and non-Canadians, like Stooks.

Stooks belongs to one of eight families who settled in Sidney more than two decades ago and spends nearly half the year there. Because he’s not a resident, he can legally only stay in the country for those six months.

“So we’ve got a federal government who’s restricting us and we’ve got a provincial government that says because this is not your principal residence, you’re a speculator now.”

In an email to Black Press Media, a finance ministry spokesperson said up-front exemptions will be available for principal residences and people who put their homes in the long-term rental market. None of that applies to Stooks.

The spokesperson declined to provide more details about vacation homes, saying only “specific technical details” will be coming in the next few months.

Stooks said he’s concerned the tax is pushing out people who bring money into B.C.’s economy without actually tackling the real problem of housing affordability.

“When you apply (the tax) broadly to everyone who has a second home that’s not their principal residence, then you’re not really addressing the speculators who are causing this problem,” he said.

“You’ve broadened it so significantly and put such a large tax on it that you’ve forced them out of the province.”

The average single family home in Greater Victoria was recorded last month as being worth $840,300. A two-per-cent speculation tax on that value comes out to $16,806, and that’s on top of any other property taxes levied by the municipality.

Stooks doesn’t want to leave a place he and his family treasure.

“I usually go down to the Deep Cove Market and have a coffee and my wife is a volunteer in the Sidney Art Show,” he said. “We really try to be good neighbours. We’re not ugly Americans who stick in a little clique.”

But they’re now considering selling their property if it becomes cheaper to simply vacation somewhere else.

“That is such a beautiful, beautiful area on Vancouver Island, both from the scenery and the people that live there. (But) it’s just too expensive.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Port Hardy council hesitant to formalize question period in agendas, refers it to committee

In first act as new council, representatives were uncertain about formalizing question periods.

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Mt. Waddington’s Salvation Army releases eye-opening statistics report for 2017

Shelter overnight stays saw a 431 per cent increase since 2014.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Cowichan school district defends lack of notice to parents following elementary student arrest

Officials with School District 79 stand by their decision not to send out an alert.

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Most Read