Property owners and residents of Sidney have been calling the municipality about the province’s proposed new speculation tax and the Town could look to take action this week.
Councillor Tim Chad is expected to introduce a notice of motion Monday night about the proposed tax.
Already, out-of-country property owners have expressed concern about what the tax could meant for them, and how much more money they’ll have to pay in order to keep homes in places like Sidney. The B.C. NDP government has proposed the tax, which would stat at 0.5 per cent of the value of a home this fall, and rise two per cent the following year. The tax would hit everyone who owns property — but doesn’t pay provincial income tax — in the lower mainland, Capital Regional District (including Sidney), Nanaimo Regional District, Kelowna and West Kelowna.
The speculation tax is, in essence, designed to punish those property owners who leave units vacant and, according to B.C. Finance Minster Carole James, “parking their capital on our housing market simple to speculate, driving up prices and removing rental stock.”
Arizona resident Carole Foster says the tax will unfairly penalize her to the tune of $26,000 for her Third Street property in Sidney.
Foster told the News Review that she’s owned the property for around 20 years and spends as much time as she’s allowed to in Sidney, as a non-Canadian-resident, as she can. She said she doesn’t want to sell the home, but will likely have to if the tax is approved without any modifications.
Foster said she’s been reaching out to the MLA and the real estate agent she purchased the house from.
“If anyone thinks I’m a speculator, they are mistaken,” she said, adding when she is not in the house she hires local people to take care of it.
Foster added she may have to look at renting it out for part of the year, in order to avoid the tax’s proposed penalties. Even then, she’s not sure if that would get around the rules.
Sidney Mayor Steve Price stated in an email to the News Review that the municipality is aware of out-of-province homeowners in town and the Saanich Peninsula.
“The Town has been receiving letters and calls from concerned citizens …” he said. “As a result, Council has a notice of motion coming forward for consideration …”
Chad’s motion asks “that the mayor communicate with the Premier that Sidney respectfully request that the Town of Sidney be excluded from the proposed tax.”
He noted in an email to council and staff that a second property worth $1 million would pay around $20,000 a year under the new tax.
“The action by the provincial government should be known as ‘READY – FIRE – AIM,’” Chad noted in an email to the News Review. “The action by our provincial government is full of unintended consequences, as a result of poor research attempted. There will be many Canadians and British Columbia residents alike, hurt, along with the economies of many B.C. towns and cities.”
Price added he understands that Premier John Horgan and James have “committed to review and reconsider the implementation of parts of the speculation tax and we look forward to seeing what … they come out within the coming weeks.”
Foster said she hopes Sidney will fight the tax and help long-term property owners in their community.