Kelowna: The Kelowna Chamber joined housing organizations late last week in applauding the federal government’s announcement that GST on new rental construction will be eliminated. “This move was long overdue” says Chamber chair Dan Price. “We needed this years ago when the government first proposed the change. Kelowna Chamber with Chambers across the country have long advocated the move.”
As well, the Chamber has long advocated an update to the GST New Home Rebate System. The program was initiated in 1991 and offers rebates on the GST paid on new homes under $450,000. This dollar threshold remains unchanged in the face of 32 years of inflation. Says Price, “At a minimum, the threshold levels should be adjusted to today’s dollars. Homes in Kelowna don’t average $450,000 and haven’t for some time.” The Chamber notes that certain regions of the country have higher average housing costs and, thus, the rebate could be adjusted geographically for greater fairness.
The Chamber understands that more steps are needed to address housing affordability in BC and the rest of Canada. Provincially, the government receives billions of dollars in land transfer taxes each year. Reducing or eliminating these fees could stimulate affordable housing projects. As well, continuing to apply land transfer taxes on used inventory further erodes affordability.
“The bottom line,” says Price, “is that all levels of government share responsibility to find solutions to the ongoing housing crisis and need to continue to work together. Governments have benefited from increases in housing prices and now they are looking for ways to ensure they work with business to keep the sector sustainable. I don’t want to give up on my dream of having my kids live in Kelowna and want to do what I can to make that happen.”
The Chamber hosts a Housing Panel luncheon Thursday September 28 at the Four Points by Sheraton where many issues and proposed solutions will be on the panelists’ list of talking points. www.kelownachamber.org/events