WATCH: Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall says B.C.’s proposed speculation tax could harm B.C.’s brand, but B.C.’s finance minister says otherwise.
On Wednesday, a group of men including former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt, former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall and developer Ken Mariash voiced their concerns about B.C.’s proposed speculation tax in advance of a conference on housing.
The speculation tax is set to be tabled in the fall session.
It would see certain homeowners pay a 0.5 per cent tax on eligible properties in 2018. In 2019, the rate would increase to one per cent for non-B.C. residents and two per cent for non-Canadians.
Brad Wall said it could harm B.C.’s brand.
“Lots of people in Swift Current, Saskatchewan have property in some of the targetted areas in this speculation tax and they don’t feel necessarily very welcome,” Wall said.
But B.C.’s finance minister maintains otherwise.
“… People who own a second home here from Alberta or Saskatchewan or from outside our province have the opportunity to rent their place and not pay the speculation tax. They can in fact rent out their vacant second or third home, provide an opportunity for people to live in that community, and they don’t have to pay the speculation tax,” said Carole James.
Mike Harcourt expressed his view that the speculation tax needs a “second look.”
Ken Mariash said speculation would not be an issue it there was not a lack of supply.
“You let developers go and they will always overbuild. I’ve been at it 50 years and we’ve done it every time,” Mariash said. “But if you don’t let us build, people are going to be playing games with the inventory that’s left. That’s the nature of business. Speculation works only when there’s no supply.”
The province has previously said that the tax would not apply to more than 99 per cent of British Columbians.