‘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

Fernie arena tragedy “wake up call” for global refrigeration industry

Technical Safety BC’s incident report shared across 60 countries, reaching as far as Poland

Lake Koocanusa under the microscope

Wildsight, Sierra Club BC, Headwaters Montana and U.S. university launch water sampling program

Province offers support ahead of Fernie arena tragedy anniversary

Loss of three men in workplace incident motivates Labour Minister to make B.C. safer

Fernie Mayor reflects on arena tragedy

Mayor Mary Giuliano speaks about how she felt following the arena tragedy in an exclusive interview

VIDEO: Miniature horse predicts Elk Valley election result

Yay or neigh? Cowboy the miniature horse chooses the next mayors of Fernie and Sparwood

Secret supper clubs test appetite for cannabis-infused food ahead of legalization

Chefs are eagerly awaiting pot edibles to become legal in Canada

Meet the City of Fernie candidates

Voters in Fernie will vote for one Mayor, six Councillors and one School Board Trustee on October 20

Meet the District of Sparwood candidates

Voters in Sparwood will vote for one Mayor and six Councillors on October 20

Meet the District of Elkford candidates

The Elkford Chamber of Commerce will host an All Candidates Forum on October 4

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Sears files for bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

The company started as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s

BREAKING: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Andrew Scheer on revamped NAFTA deal: ‘I would have signed a better one’

Conservative leader says he wouldn’t have signed USMCA

Most Read