The BC govt’s speculator tax has targeted customers as the cause of rising housing prices.

Business fundamentals say if there is insufficient product to meet demand, it’s a problem of supply, not customers.

Targeting customers with exorbitant taxes puts businesses and jobs at risk.

Already, housing projects are being canceled by out-of-province Canadians intending to retire in BC.

They cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars in additional annual taxes – far more than the average provincial tax paid by British Columbians.

Our region has a number of destination resorts, and vacation/retirement homes represent a big part of their business, and local hiring.

In addition, these taxes could create a sell-off domino effect negatively impacting BC’s economy.

Discouraging customers is a poor strategy for dealing with high prices.

Housing affordability is best improved by increasing supply through responsible regional planning and rezoning.

This has not been achieved in Greater Victoria, evidenced by Saanich only now starting a garden suite study, years after Victoria approved garden suites.

Inefficient permit processes and anti-development groups also add significantly to high prices.

From 2003 to 2005, housing prices increased 41% after a period of stagnation. Nobody blamed pensioners, out-of-province Canadians or foreign buyers.

Historically, prices jump after stagnation, experienced again from 2009 – 2015.

Customers are not to blame. The BC govt’s policy of municipal self-determination is a major cause of high prices.

An amalgamated CRD would increase housing supply and improve transportation, create skilled jobs and boost the economy, including govt revenue.

Choosing to blame customers is always bad for business and will harm BC’s economy.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist newspaper.

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