The board of the Regional District of Nanaimo is raising concerns about the fairness and effectiveness of the speculation tax included in the provincial government’s 2018 budget.

At the March 13th 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.

“The RDN strongly and fully supports the provincial government’s goal of improving housing affordability,” said RDN Board Chair Bill Veenhof.

“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.”

The speculation tax is aimed at non-B.C. residents who own a second home in certain B.C. cities, including Nanaimo.

“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.” said Veenhof.

“Families who visit year after year, supporting local businesses, paying their fair share of property taxes, and investing in our tourism-based economy.”

The RDN Board says another significant concern is that the speculation tax will apply within RDN borders, but not in the Cowichan, Comox, and Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Districts.

Finance Minister Carole James says the government announced the tax to address rapidly rising house prices.

During Question Period on Tuesday, she addressed recent criticism saying such a tax is necessary.

“We are supporting affordability … we are going to make sure that we address the housing crisis that the other side completely ignored,” said James.

The RDN Board has sent James a letter dated March 6th sharing initial concerns about unintended consequences of the speculation tax and has requested a meeting to discuss how it will affect housing affordability.

The Chair of the Regional District will also 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 the meeting with the Minister.

With files from CBC 

Ben O'Hara