While local reception to BC's speculation and vacancy tax expansion has been less than warm, the province says more than $81 million has been raised in 2022 to return to affordable housing.

Vernon, Coldstream, Penticton, Summerland, Lake Country, Peachland, Salmon Arm and Kamloops were among the 13 new communities added to the tax last month.

“Across the country, the housing crisis is hurting people and communities. Speculation and the vacancy tax are supporting more homes for people so they can live where they work and where their children go to school,” said the Minister of Finance, Katrine Conroy, in a statement. press release Monday.

“While some will cancel the speculation tax – giving handouts to speculators and turning homes back into empty condos – we know people can’t afford it.”

However, the expansion was considered a tax grab by Vernon councilors.

“Let's call things by their names, this is nothing more than just a way of taxing someone to fill the coffers, and I think that's just a wrong premise,” said the count. Kari Gares said at the last Vernon council meeting.

“It’s just a tax grab, is what I think it is. It's just 'well, we'll get more money out of this, we'll use the housing crisis as an explanation and bingo, here we go',” said Count Akbal Mund.

Gares, a mortgage broker, said the tax had unintended consequences when it was first introduced because investors chose to buy in places where there is no tax. Then some tax-free place like Vernon got its housing market boosted, something she said could happen this time in neighboring counties like Armstrong.

Cond. Brian Quiring called this a “double whammy” on top of recently introduced short-term rental regulations.

Coldstream Mayor Ruth Hoyte said she supports the province's Home for People plan, but doubts the tax will have much of an impact on her municipality.

“It won't affect most people… I suspect it won't free up many homes for rent in Coldstream,” she said.

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