March 25, 2018 4:44 pm
Updated: March 26, 2018 1:15 pm

She hasn’t even owned her home for a month, but might have to sell because of B.C.’s speculation tax

The provincial government's new real estate speculation tax is designed to tackle the ongoing housing affordability crisis but as Keith Baldrey reports, critics say it unfairly punishes people who own vacation homes and some communities are now demanding an exemption.

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A Canadian living in the U.S. says that she is caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between municipalities and the province over the oncoming speculation tax.

Cheryl Martin recently bought a cottage near Parksville so she would have somewhere to stay when visiting family on Vancouver Island.

“That means if I need to leave, (I need to get) moving on selling this property that I haven’t even owned for 30 days yet,” she said.

READ MORE: Premier John Horgan defends speculation tax amid backlash


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Speaking on The Jill Bennett Show, she said the two per cent tax means she would owe an extra $7,000 every year on top of her mortgage.

“I’m not in this to make money,” Martin said. “The reason for our purchase is that we would have a place to stay when we go to visit our family. Our family all live on the island. And when we’re not there, we plan to rent the cottage out because we can’t afford to just let it sit empty.”

“It’s not like we’re speculators. And I’m not even a foreign buyer. I may not live in B.C. right now, or Canada, but I’m a Canadian citizen.”

LISTEN: The Speculation Tax Caught In The Crossfire, Cheryl’s Story


She is hoping for more clarity from the NDP so she can make a decision on whether to put her new home back on the market.

A number of municipalities in B.C. want to be exempt from the speculation tax, noting many people have vacation properties on Vancouver Island and in the Okanagan, and their tourism industry would take a significant hit if the speculation tax was put in place.

READ MORE: Government promises clarity of speculation tax in ‘days ahead’

Earlier this month Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre told Global News he doesn’t want his community placed under the tax.

“These properties are broadly marketed and sold to users as a vacation home as part of the year and placed in short-term rental pools when they are not used by their owners,” he said.

Finance Minister Carole James sat down with West Kelowna mayor Doug Findlater on Wednesday, who also wants out.

READ MORE: Speculation tax fails to target property flippers: Kelowna staff report

Last week, James said other factors need to be considered, including the ability for people to find somewhere to live.

“If you take a look at the vacancy rate in Kelowna, it’s at 0.02 per cent. That shows that it’s a struggle for people to be able to live in Kelowna, for workers to be able to live and work in their community.”

Findlater said James offered no hard promises but she will be meeting with a number of stakeholders and is expected to announce changes in the weeks ahead.

— With files from Liza Yuzda and Simon Little

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