Bear Mountain rezoned for spec tax exemption, province says no

Despite Langford mayor Stew Young getting Bear Mountain rezoned as a resort community, province says municipalities can’t pick and choose areas that won’t pay tax

Langford Mayor Stew Young and Bear Mountain chief financial officer David Clarke decided to re-zone Bear Mountain as a resort in oreder to be exempt from the speculation tax, but the province said it doesn’t work that way.

Young said the goal was to designate Bear Mountain as a resort area so, like Whistler, it wouldn’t be affected by the province’s speculation tax.

“We said look, at least get Bear Mountain out right now because that’s where my jobs are,” Young said. “My staff agreed to meet with ministry staff and find a way for Bear Mountain to be a resort and have the same designation as Whistler.”

Clarke said he had meetings with provincial representatives about the matter as well, and was able to confirm that Bear Mountain was re-zoned as a resort for this purpose.

READ MORE: Langford mayor says City threatened during meeting over speculation tax

However, a spokesperson from the Premier’s Office said Bear Mountain does not qualify for an exemption the same way Whistler does, because Whistler is a standalone resort municipality, whereas Bear Mountain is still part of Langford.

“Municipalities cannot remove sub-sections of the Speculation Vacancy Tax area, such as the request to remove Bear Mountain,” said Jen Holmwood, deputy communications director with the Office of the Premier. “It would not be appropriate for any city to pick and choose which neighbourhoods or corporate developments the tax applies to.”

Holmwood said the speculation tax applies to the largest urban centres in B.C. that have the most significant housing affordability challenges. She said Langford has been “severely impacted by the housing crisis” with rental vacancy rates of 0.7 per cent for the West Shore, according to the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation.

For three-bedroom family homes the vacancy rate is zero.

Holmwood said Langford has also seen assessment price hikes of 21 per cent in the last year and a 51 per cent increase in the benchmark price of a home in the last five years.

READ MORE: Letters on way to all homeowners in B.C. speculation tax communities

“Our government’s focus is on ensuring that all British Columbians can afford a place to call home,” Holmwood said. “We are turning vacant properties into homes for people to actually live in.”

Young has been outspoken about his opposition to the tax and last week, said he will continue to fight it.

“This is a resort community,” Young said about Bear Mountain. “It’s good for Langford…it’s a big employer…Langford gets good taxes out of it…I have to fight for that.”

Homeowners in Greater Victoria will be able to apply to opt out of the speculation tax and will be receiving instructions in the mail from the province on how to do so.

According to the province, the speculation tax is supposed to target foreign and domestic speculators who own residences in B.C. but don’t pay taxes in the province.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

Stop work order at Sooke salmon hatchery devastates volunteers

CRD steps in as some volunteers give up their efforts

Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

How an unknown American hobbyist sparked a Canadian dictionary

Jesse Roper learns to create fire in the wild, in Sacred Knowledge web series

Ragnarock Studios production shares primitive skills with Islanders

Island athlete goes from hoop dreams to icy track

Cyrus Gray hopes to punch his ticket to Olympics in bobsleigh

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

SOOKE HISTORY: Pemberton Pool namesake remains a mystery

Historian believes it was possibly named after surveyor Joseph Despard Pemberton

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Most Read