The Trans-Canada Highway is a constant source of stress and conversation throughout the smaller communities of B.C. Revelstoke is not shy expressing their opinion on the Three Valley Gap issue, and most likely, will not stop. Local MLA Doug Clovechok is no stranger to making the wheel squeak when in Victoria and that is exactly what he did recently.
Clovechok sat down with the Revelstoke Current to give an MLA Report as to what is happening (or not happening) in the Legislature. The New Democratic Party (NDP) recently released their budget moving forward and it may come to no surprise that concerns arose from Clovechok when there was nothing indicating the Three Valley Gap (TVG) would be addressed. During estimates, Clovechok spoke with the Minister of Transportation in regards to The Kicking Horse Canyon as well as TVG, and although the word “expedite” was used, he has concerns about the lack of budget in that area as well as a plan. TVG and the Kicking Horse Canyon are not the only problematic sections of highway. Highway 23 is a class-B highway, yet it is a heavily used section of road that also needs to be addressed as population grows in this area.
A meeting with Clovechok, Mayor Mark McKee and Transportation Minister Clair Trevena has been set for Wednesday, April 11th to discuss the highway and move towards a proper plan to tackle the TVG matter.
“As an opposition member in the House, they expect me raise holy hell, but when they sit down with the Mayor of Revelstoke, who lives this, sees the citizens everyday who can’t get to work because of traffic jams, first responders can’t get across the highway and there are deaths on either side of the City, when they sit down and talk to someone who lives this everyday it is pretty hard to ignore that. That is why I pushed really hard for this meeting.”
Speculation Tax has surfaced like a floating door and those that own live in B.C. and own more than one property, may be subject to the 2% of the assessed value by 2019. However, the current Government has stated that a tax rebate will be granted in homeowner’s income tax to offset the cost, but Clovechok has concerns with that method.
“All indicators that I have seen so far, is the amount of money you get back on your taxes doesn’t equal the money you are going to put out in this particular assessment tax. It is draconian, certainly un-Canadian. I get it from a foreign buyer perspective; there are investors coming from Hong Kong and all over the world that are putting millions of dollars of capital into Vancouver and Victoria and flipping houses very quickly and making a lot of money, we have to stop that.”
Clovechok spoke with the Minister of Fiancé on this matter, and was informed that this Speculation Tax would not be coming to Columbia River-Revelstoke; however there has been no written or signed document to back that statement up. Speculation Tax is currently active in Kelowna and West-Kelowna and the concern is it will slyly find its way to this area.
“Projects are being put on hold. A $10 million project in Radium, $500k project in Golden-family supporting jobs here in our riding that just went away even though the tax isn’t here yet. It is scaring investors away.”
At this point, there is no separation for those that live in Saskatchewan and own in B.C. or those that live in B.C. and own more than one property. While it makes sense for the foreign buyers’ issue, this is a growing concern for Clovechok and our local area. This is a reoccurring discussion in question period and will continue to be until a more definitive breakdown is put into play.
“It is not going to drive prices down so people can afford houses. We all have to find ways to discover better social housing, I agree with that, but this Speculation Tax is not the way to do it.”
One a positive note, Clovechok recognized the $55 million dollars the Government will be putting towards First Nations language training and friendship centres and other educational opportunities.
“Language is the root of culture. If you truly believe in reconciliation, this is a step in the right direction and I completely support that.”