RDN Raises Concerns about new BC Speculation Tax

Regional District of Nanaimo

Press Release

Wednesday, March 14 2018

On February 20, 2018 the BC Government presented the 2018 Budget for the Province which included a number of measures to address factors affecting housing affordability in BC. Included in those measures is a ‘Speculation Tax’ that targets non-resident homeowners in select regions in the Province, including the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN). This new tax has raised a number of concerns about fairness and effectiveness for the Regional District of Nanaimo Board.

“The RDN strongly and fully supports the provincial government’s goal of improving housing affordability.  Indeed, the RDN is rightfully proud of its work and achieved results in developing affordable housing in this region.  The RDN is concerned that the Speculation Tax is not the most appropriate approach to addressing this issue and could actually work against our continued efforts to develop more affordable housing.” said Chair Veenhof.

Additionally, the new tax will apply to recreational properties owned by non-BC residents. “These people are not speculators. They are important members of our communities. Families who visit year after year, supporting local businesses, paying their fair share of property taxes, and investing in our tourism-based economy.  They are part of our community mosaic, they volunteer, they are our friends and many go on to retire here.” stressed Veenhof.

Another significant concern for the RDN Board is that the Speculation Tax will apply within RDN borders, but not in the Cowichan, Comox, and Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Districts. “By selectively applying the tax to the RDN but not our neighbouring regional districts, the RDN will be at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting development interest compared to our neighbours.  This is not a hypothetical concern, we are already seeing this happening,” added Chair Veenhof.

The RDN Board has sent the Honourable Carole James, Minister of Finance a letter dated March 6, 2018 sharing their initial concerns about unintended consequences of the Speculation Tax.  The RDN has requested a meeting with the Minister to have a fulsome discussion about how this tax will affect housing affordability on Vancouver Island and in British Columbia and looks forward to collaboratively working with the Province to find solutions to support affordable housing based on fairness and effectiveness, and that do not target our local economy.  As it stands, the solutions do not include the proposed Speculation Tax. The Chair of the Regional District will extend an invitation to the Mayors of the City of Nanaimo, the City of Parksville, the Town of Qualicum Beach and the District of Lantzville to attend also the meeting with the Minister.

At the March 13, 2018 RDN Committee of the Whole meeting, the RDN Board of Directors unanimously agreed to object to the Speculation Tax in any form, in any region or municipality in BC. According to Director Veenhof “The unintended consequences of this tax far outweigh the benefits and in its current form, it should be eliminated altogether.”