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Lantzville asking for speculation tax exemption from B.C. government

Lantzville has been included in the speculation tax since the beginning

The District of Lantzville wants out of the speculation tax and wants the provincial government to know it.

Lantzville councillors voted unanimously to send a letter to Carole James, B.C. minister of finance, requesting the district be exempt from the speculation tax and empty homes tax, during Monday night’s council meeting.

It’s not the first time Lantzville councillors have gone down this road.

The previous council voted unanimously in favour of meeting with James in March to discuss why Lantzville was included in the tax. That decision came shortly after the province decided to exempt the Regional District of Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and a number of other communities. An informal meeting eventually took place with then-mayor Colin Haime and James, but no changes have been made since.

Council’s decision follows an announcement by the province that all homeowners living in a community where the speculation tax applies must apply for an exemption from the tax on an annual basis. Those who do not apply will be hit with the tax regardless of whether or not they are exempt.

RELATED: RDN wants speculation tax called off

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Coun. Will Geselbracht, who made the motion, said it was time for Lantzville to stand up, send a message to the government and make it known that it has no interest in being a part of the tax.

“We really haven’t as a community fought back on this,” he said.

Geselbracht called the tax “convoluted” and unfair as it forces the homeowner to opt out.

“Yes, there are many exemptions under this tax but once again it puts the onus on you, the community, to fill out a form and if you’re holidaying down in Yuma, you may not get that letter and then lo and behold you’ll receive a bill in the mail,” he said.

Coun. Karen Proctor said she has “real concerns” around the implementation of the tax and doesn’t understand why the Regional District of Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach are exempt but Lantzville isn’t.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

Proctor said she felt not enough people in Lantzville are even aware that the community is part of the speculation tax because Lantzville is hardly mentioned in the media.

“I think some of our citizens will end up paying the tax because they don’t understand that,” she said. “I think some of our elderly citizens may have a hard time accessing all the information they need on the internet and will get whopped with a bill they’re not expecting.”

Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain acknowledged the efforts by the previous council and said it was a good idea for council to make it known Lantzville wants nothing to do with the tax.

“I think it would be wise of council to actually put it in to writing and send it off to the ministry,” he said.

Swain said while he understands the rationale behind the speculation and empty home taxes, he doesn’t believe Lantzville has an issue with empty homes or speculation.

“I just don’t believe it is a problem in Lantzville and I think [that’s] shared among many rather than a few,” he said.







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
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