BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson met with Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater on Monday to discuss the NDP government’s controversial cabin tax and committed to repealing the tax if elected.
Both mayors are concerned that the cabin tax will have adverse effects on the Kelowna economy, having already seen the local construction sector begin to slow.
“Premier [John] Horgan is taking aim at local economies with this asset tax and every single hard-working painter, drywaller, plumber, electrician, and contractor being hit with a work shortage is owed an explanation,” said Wilkinson.
Kelowna West MLA Ben Stewart’s constituency office has received over 750 emails from locals who have been directly affected by the tax. Mayor Findlater and the City of West Kelowna have received 250 similar letters.
“This is without a doubt the biggest issue I’m hearing about from my constituents,” said Stewart. “This is scaring off potential buyers and newcomers, as well as hurting the pocketbooks of locals working in the trades and tourism.”
Last month, Kelowna MLAs brought attention to the fact that Horgan had promised to meet with West Kelowna to discuss the tax back in April, but avoided scheduling a meeting until after the Legislative session concluded in Victoria.
“This region has been unfairly targeted by the cabin tax since it was announced in February, and the fact that Premier Horgan refused to meet with our local representatives until mid-June added insult to injury,” said Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson.
“This tax was introduced under the guise of making life more affordable, but here in Kelowna we’re seeing the opposite. Putting people in tough financial positions doesn’t help make their lives more affordable,” added Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick.
While visiting Kelowna, Wilkinson toured the site of Troika Developments’ West Harbour Project, one of the region’s many proposed construction projects now facing uncertainty created by the new tax scheme.
Along with the Cabin Tax repeal, Wilkinson also committed that a BC Liberal government would introduce legislation that would crack down on serious speculators by taxing their capital gains. This tax would be modelled after the flipping tax bill introduced in the Legislature by Wilkinson on May 14.