In connection with the opinion piece of Jan. 25, I must provide a counter comment. While I understand the reasons for this tax, it is catching a wide range of individuals to which it will unfairly apply, of which I am one.
Without question, the Vancouver and possibly Victoria real estate market has been distorted by off shore money from questionable sources including money laundering and speculators who do not care to use the property, only hold it for a profit.
However, I am sure there are others like myself who do not fit this description. I am a 73 year old senior who purchased a modest older condo in September 2017 (prior to the tax announcement) for the purpose of spending 4 to 6 months annually to escape Ottawa winters, and to be closer to my daughter who has lived in Victoria since 2004.
I am far from being the millionaire investor alluded to. I served 38 years in the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence and paid Canadian taxes all my life. I lived within my means and put money aside for my retirement to the extent that I could afford a place to spend the winters. I am not some off shore investor with no ties to B.C. Both my parents are buried in Courtenay and my sister lives there.
The imposition of the tax, and if made worse by a municipal vacancy tax, makes it impossible for a person on a fixed income to consider to have a vacation home here. I consciously chose to winter in Canada as opposed to buying a condo in Arizona or Florida as so many others have done, primarily in order to spend my dollars in Canada. That appears to have been a foolish decision.
It is not easy to calculate an exact value that I bring to the region. I spend money at restaurants and golf courses, I pay PST on purchases, and local tradesmen have profited from my renovations. I probably spend more money locally during the winter months that the residents who head south to Arizona or California.
This tax fails the fairness test. I am not eligible for the $845 BC Homeowners Grant, and so already pay three times what my neighbours pay in property taxes. With the imposition of the speculation tax, I will be paying almost 10 times as much or 1000 per cent more. In effect, I am already subsidizing locals by paying more but using less than 12 months per year of services. My load on social services and benefits is minimal, benefits available to B.C. residences, such as free ferry travel do not apply, any medical expenses are covered by the Ontario taxpayer, I have no children in the school system, etc.
What bothers me most about the article and political discourse from the likes of Mayor Helps and Councillor Isitt is the general tone implying that as the owner of a vacant property I am somehow a parasite on society that must be punished. Just look at the words used: “[take a] boarded up building that is a blight … and tax it back into productive use,” “[there will be] some willing to invest millions,” “speculators will always be able to line their pockets at a community’s expense”. No doubt that description applies to some circumstances and individuals; however, that does not apply to a great many typical hard working out of province Canadian pensioners who have been tarred with the same brush and are unable to fight back. My property is not vacant. It is furnished and lived in albeit not 12 months of the year.