Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster predicts an expansion of the B.C NDP government’s speculation tax on vacant or underutilized properties.
The tax currently applies to areas of the Lower Mainland, Victoria and Kelowna where housing prices are high.
But the Liberal MLA says the government had aimed to make “hundreds of millions” in revenue from the tax and he expects other communities to be included.
“I don’t see how they can but help to expand it if they plan to get the revenue out of it that they were expecting,” Foster told Beach Radio News in a year-end interview.
He said the NDP government projected “hundreds of millions” in revenue from the tax and then decided not to include other house-rich areas, including Parksville, Qualicum Beach, the Gulf Islands and even the premier’s riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca.
“I can’t see, if they plan to meet their revenue projection, how they can do without expanding,” Foster explained.
During a year-end interview, Foster praised efforts being made in B.C. for construction of temporary housing for homeless people.
“I’m glad to see those moving forward. We all have the same goal, we want to see some housing done.”
He also expressed hope there would be increased housing built in the private sector but said contractors were hesitant due to the speculation tax.
Foster also took aim at the government for “kicking” important B.C. matters down the legislative agenda.
One of those was ride-sharing, which he said is of vital interest in the North Okanagan.
He said Vernon has a taxi service but “none of the outlying areas has a taxi service.”
While he said taking a $65 taxi drive from Vernon to Lumby was not unfair, he said ride sharing could make all the difference for outlying areas.
“If we had ride hailing, somebody in Lumby could hook up with one of the ride hailing companies, whichever one, and have a car or two and do it on the weekends when it’s busy and make a few dollars,” Foster said. “The people in Vancouver are making a lot of noise about it and rightly so …but this affects the smaller communities of rural B.C. as much or more. We have no service.”
He said other crucial matters being avoided by the current government including replacement of the George Massey tunnel in Richmond-Delta which he described as the “biggest bottleneck in Western Canada” and a schools funding formula.
Foster is a member of the opposition Liberal Party.