B.C. Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson spoke at the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce on Monday afternoon. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Liberal leader listening to speculation tax concerns

Andrew Wilkinson spoke to Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce on Monday

The B.C. Liberals don’t expect the NDP to rethink the speculation tax, but they want to keep the pressure on in opposition.

Liberal party leader Andrew Wilkinson travelled down Vancouver Island on Monday, stopping at the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce this afternoon to talk about the speculation tax and other topics.

He said citizens have always known where they stood every spring, expecting to pay, at tax time, a progressive income tax that amounts to a “significant chunk of cash” for higher earners.

“The NDP has said now that in support of their agenda of affordability, it’s time to go after more than just income,” Wilkinson said. “That these assets are available for taxation. That people’s savings, their late-in-life capital gains are now fair game.”

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He asked those in the room Monday to share, with his party, examples of the impacts of the speculation tax. Wilkinson shared a few examples of his own, pointing to a proposed project in Vancouver where he said a developer bought a row of homes with the intention of levelling them to put up condos. During the permitting process, he said, the developer is paying speculation tax on the empty homes, harming profit margins so that the condos, when they are built, will now be priced higher than planned.

“This is supposed to be supporting an affordability agenda when it’s driving up the price of the condos,” said Wilkinson.

He wasn’t satisfied with the new geographic boundaries for the speculation tax, saying they came from “totally arbitrary politicized decisions.”

He hopes further discussion about the tax will show the NDP the “error of their ways” but isn’t sure his party will be able to change the government’s mind.

“I am doubtful that the NDP will revise it for a second time,” he said. “They realized the mistakes they’d made the first time and if they keep revising something it means they’re inept.”

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell said she fought the speculation tax in Parksville and Qualicum Beach and will be a voice for Nanaimo and Lantzville on the issue.

“The speculation tax as it is written today is not at all a speculation tax – it’s a wealth tax,” she said. “It is not actually having an impact on speculation.”


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