Speculation tax causing 'confusion and fear' in East Kootenay
Some areas of B.C. not included in the tax worry it could expand to include them
As some of B.C.'s larger cities grapple with the possibility of the speculation tax recently announced in the 2018 budget, small communities in the Interior say they are feeling the effects as well.
"The speculator tax has definitely caused some confusion and fear among people," said Gerry Taft, the mayor of Invermere and a real estate agent with Royal LePage.
The tax was proposed by the B.C. government to address rapidly rising housing prices, though few details have been released.
It is aimed at non-B.C. residents who own a second home in certain areas of B.C. including Metro Vancouver, the Nanaimo Regional District, Kelowna and West Kelowna.
As proposed, it does not apply to B.C.'s Kootenay region, but Taft says that is of little comfort to Albertans who own homes in the region.
'They are offended'
"The fear is, based on some of the wording in the budget, that the speculator tax might expand in scope geographically ... so that's created a lot of uncertainty," said Taft.
"Added to that, I think, there's a little bit of emotion from some Alberta folks who feel that they're already not impressed with British Columbia, and they already feel like they're not appreciated ... they are offended that they're considered to be a speculator."
He said "a significant portion" of the properties around Lake Windermere belong to out-of-province owners. Radium Hot Springs, Fernie and Kimberley are also popular recreation and second home destinations.
The Regional District of East Kootenay recently released a statement raising concern that the tax targets secondary homeowners who want to invest time and money in the B.C. Interior.
'Already negative impacts'
"The new tax uses a broad-brush to paint all second-property owners as speculators," said chair Rob Gay in a news release.
"Our board wants to stress to the province that in our area, our second homeowners are a valued and important part of our communities, and we are gravely concerned about the impact this tax could have should it be expanded."
"Our concern isn't just about the potential future impacts. We believe there are already negative impacts on regions not originally included in the tax."
Taft says he has raised the issue with cabinet ministers and has been told the tax is not coming to the region, but he would like written confirmation.
"It's one thing to have a conversation and try to explain that to people, but that doesn't seem to be enough to calm some people's nerves," said Taft.
The cities of Kelowna and West Kelowna have also expressed concern about the proposed tax.
West Kelowna is demanding that that city be exempt.
With files from CBC's Daybreak South.