VRBA made the following remarks on the BC govt’s Speculation Tax at Oak Bay’s Town Hall, June 28, 2018. On the panel were Andrew Weaver, BC Green Party;  Kevin Murdoch, Oak Bay Councillor; Tara Ney, Oak Bay Councillor; Eric Zhelka, Oak Bay Councillor; Scott Piercy, Engel & Volkers. Also attending/speaking at the meeting were Mayor Stu Young, Langford; Ken Mariash, Bayview developer.

VRBA’s comments to the panel & audience:

First, the lowest housing prices in Canada are in New Brunswick at an average of about $178,000. The reason is they have very high unemployment and young people are leaving the province in search of jobs. BC’s Speculation Tax is now eliminating jobs in Victoria. Be careful what you ask for.

Millennials, a demographic as large as the boomers, are faced with a housing market restricted by greenbelts like ALR, obstructive regulations like EDPA in urban containment areas intended for housing. Plus three levels of govt use housing as a revenue source through PTT, GST and demands for amenities.  How could housing not become unaffordable?

In the meantime politicians have ignored this very predictable market written about more than 20 years ago in David Foot’s Boom Bust & Echo. Instead they blame people with vacation & retirement homes. They use new taxes like the Speculation Tax to generate more revenue while perpetuating failed governance models like self-determination for municipalities.  You can’t create regional restrictions to growth like ALR & urban containment zones without balancing it with a regional plan to accommodate density, housing affordability and transportation like LRT.

Instead the BC govt did the worst thing you can do which is to create greenbelts and leave it to 13 municipalities to dictate zoning. 13 councils influenced by small community associations. The only municipality that’s done it right in terms of zoning and affordability is Langford.

In Oak Bay, council has asked for a vacancy tax. The same is being proposed by the Green Party. First, no govt in a free society has the right to monitor how much time we spend in our own homes and tax us accordingly. It’s a violation of privacy and private property. If it’s not a violation of the Canadian constitution, it should be. Second, Oak Bay does not allow legal suites, or even duplexes in most areas. Yet to allegedly increase housing availability they are prepared to violate the privacy of their residents to make more money from housing via a vacancy tax.

Provincial and municipal politicians should own up to the fact that if they had shaped policies based on predictable demand from one of the largest demographics in Canadian history, we would not have 13 municipalities in the CRD.

We would have responsible regional zoning for density and much improved housing affordability, an LRT and sewage treatment to name a few.

Thank you.