Spec tax a job killer: CHBA

As B.C.'s finance minister touted a $115 million windfall from the real estate speculation tax on Thursday, the local home builders association is singing a different tune.

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association of the Central Okanagan says there have been significant job losses in the Central Okanagan, which is one of the areas targeted by the tax.

It says there has been a 22% reduction in jobs related to residential construction in Kelowna, and a 17% reduction in West Kelowna.

Nanaimo, which also falls under the spec tax has seen a 12% reduction in  construction jobs, CHBA-CO says.

In a press release, Cassidy deVeer, president of the local association, said Kelowna has 3,000 fewer jobs since the tax was introduced.

Meanwhile, CHBA-CO says Kamloops, unaffected by the tax, has seen an increase in jobs of 35% and a 30% increase in vacant homes.

"We are highlighting the job reductions in our industry since the speculation tax was introduced to show its impact,” said deVeer. “It has harmed specific areas like Kelowna and West Kelowna and has driven growth in other communities like Kamloops and Penticton.”

The tax specifically targets vacant properties and second properties used as vacation destinations by absentee owners or real estate speculators.

The reaction comes as Finance Minister Carole James pumped the benefits of the tax flowing to affordable housing. She's also meeting today with Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and West Kelowna Gord Milsom in Vancouver. Both mayors have strongly opposed the tax.

"The speculation tax affects Kelowna and West Kelowna directly, and we think the people of the Central Okanagan deserve an answer on what the finance minister is doing about job reductions," deVeer added. "These lost jobs are not wealthy or foreign people which the tax is advertised to be targeting. These people are the working middle class, and now they are out of a job in our community.”

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