Hicks wants level playing field

Tax credit for recreational/vacation homes should include Juan de Fuca area

As of April 1, 2012 people who purchase homes edging close to $1-million will be eligible for a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) credit up to $42,500.

While this may be good news for those who can afford houses up to $850,000, it is bad news for some who wish to buy a vacation home in Port Renfrew or anywhere in the Juan de Fuca, Salt Spring Island or Southern Gulf Islands.

Mike Hicks, regional director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, is calling on the Capital Regional District to help change that scenario. He wants those three electoral areas to be included in the HST rebate program for homes which are classed as secondary vacation homes or recreational properties.

“My concern is that Port Renfrew is experiencing real growth, cabins are being built, employing 12 people.It’s important to me that the government keeps a level playing field,” said Hicks.

He said the economic development in Port Renfrew is “pretty fascinating.”

He said the “real neat thing” is that a person who bought a recreational cottage in Port Renfrew works for a oil industry company in Alberta and he has hired six men from Port Renfrew to go up to Alberta to work.

“Between the service company and the Pacheedaht there is full employment. Here you have in the JDF a dry-land sort producing cabins being sold in Port Renfrew, an increased tax base and someone who buys a cabin is commuting to the oil industry,” said Hicks. “The cabins have attracted an employer.”

He stated that after years of economic hardship, Port Renfrew is experiencing a boom in real estate sales and building. In this year alone, Port Renfrew’s parcel taxes have grown from 200 to 250, a 25 per cent increase.

“Almost 100 per cent of this growth is from the sale of recreational lots,” said Hicks. “The budget item will have an immediate and devastating impact on the sale and development of recreational lots on Salt Spring Island, Gulf Island and Juan de Fuca Electoral Areas.”

Hicks brought a motion before the CRD Board that stated: “That the CRD request that the B.C. Government include the three electoral areas in the Capital Regional District (Juan de Fuca, Salt Spring Island, Southern Gulf Islands) in the provincial HST rebate program, effective April 1, 2012 on new secondary vacation homes and recreational properties.”

The CRD supported Hicks’ motion by letter to Minister of Finance Kevin Falcon on March 14, 2012.