British Columbians not all flakes and hypocrites

The majority of us support a strong, united national economy and respect that we all share a responsibility to protect and expand it

Western Investor
April 30, 2018

Vancouver Downtown and West Side


Other Canadians should take heart. Despite what is being portrayed, British Columbians are not all protectionist zealots, stage-managed protesters or political hypocrites. The majority of us living west of the Rockies support a strong, united national economy, and respect that we share a responsibility in protecting and expanding it. 

The majority of us also know that three pillars form the foundation of the B.C. economy: international investment, resource extraction and real estate.

We are not all hypocrites, unlike provincial leaders who are eager to stop a vital pipeline project in the vote-heavy Lower Mainland but back another in the north, where there are not enough constituents to threaten their shaky hold on power. 

We don’t all drive our fossil fueled trucks to protest an oil pipeline that will generate billions of dollars for the government and then whine that we want more low-cost taxpayer funded housing, more spending on Aboriginal issues, more government-funded drug injection sites, free daycare and higher health and education spending. 

We don’t all support mouthing platitudes about protecting the middle-class and hard-working families and then tax the same people out of their businesses and homes.

We don’t all support jetting political insiders on expensive foreign trade missions who then react with horror and punishing tax barriers when foreigners actually invest in B.C. 

If a wealthy foreign citizen purchases a $4 million house in B.C. the total taxes would now be more than $800,000. If he or she could not live in the home year round, the tax rises by another $120,000 annually next year. 

By any measure, such a punitive tax is enough to drive away nearly any international investor. We guess this is B.C.’s alternative to a Trump-style border wall. 

Or consider a Canadian citizen from, say, Manitoba or Ontario who owns a family ski condo or a lakefront cottage in B.C., which they naturally use during the appropriate season and help support the local economy. In B.C., such Canadians are now treated as alien parasites and face a prohibitive annual speculation tax on their recreational property in many parts of the province. 

Then there is a new annual tax on the many longtime B.C. residents whose homes have appreciated to $3 million in value: that will now cost them $15,000 extra every year. 

The majority of British Columbians realize that it takes years of hard work and sacrifice for the average family to afford quality real estate here, and do not believe such owners should be punished.

Our eastern neighbours should not give up on B.C. Most of us here appreciate helping to build a united and strong national economy and recognize that we have a right to share in the rewards, and a duty to share the risks.

Frank O'Brien is the editor of Western Canada's biggest commercial real estate newspaper, Western Investor, as well as a contributing editor at West Coast Condominium, real estate contributor to Business in Vancouver and a regular media commentator on real estate investment.
Copyright © Western Investor

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