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Letters Feb. 15: Vacationing in Parksville, or not; speculation tax muddle

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Rathtrevor Beach near Parksville. TIMES COLONIST

Parksville risks losing vacationers

We are not condo owners in Parksville, we’re tourists. We have vacationed for decades in the Parksville area.

We came camping with our young family, then again after our children outgrew our equipment, and now we come as seniors to escape winter, or to enjoy an early spring alongside our grandchildren.

We have been fortunate to visit the Tanglewood development several times over the past few years. We enjoy the flexibility that a condominium vacation rental offers vs. a hotel or motel.

We enjoy the beach, the town of Parksville, and the surrounding area. We spend a lot of money on rental cars, dining out, at the galleries and wineries, as well as visiting various attractions in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Victoria.

This development was purpose built for vacationing. It will never be affordable housing. But if this rental ban comes into effect as is, the loss of revenue to Parksville and area would be significant.

If these units are not available, we would definitely reconsider visiting Parksville, as the options for a family style vacation would be extremely limited.

If we wanted a coastal experience, we would need to turn to the United States. I would much rather support Canadian businesses with my tourist dollars.

We have noted that similar exemptions have been granted to ski hill rentals throughout B.C., as well as smaller vacation-centric areas such as Invermere, Fernie, Radium Hot Springs, Tofino and Ucluelet.

My family and I are very happy at Tanglewood in Parksville on Vancouver Island.

Summer will soon be upon us, and there are a lot of tourist dollars at stake here.

Brian and Janey Sondergaard

Calgary

Housing for people matters more than profit

Re: “Eight reasons why the short-term rental ban is bad for Parksville,” commentary, Feb. 12.

I understand that a short-term rental ban can have unfortunate consequences for those who have chosen to purchase properties for the purpose of operating a business.

However, using housing to generate a profit and eliminating a potential place for people to live, so that well-heeled tourists can look at the pretty beach, is a misplacement of priorities.

Instead of providing a cogent argument to support their claims, the authors drafted a textbook example of NIMBY-ism.

They assert that the area is not suitable for affordable housing. Why not? No reasons are given. They do not indicate where an appropriate venue for affordable housing should be.

They mention that their area is near Rathtrevor Park and that families of all income levels come to enjoy the oceans. How is the zoning change going to affect that?

Rathtrevor is operated by B.C. Parks with free access to the beach, and I do not foresee that changing.

The authors list eight points in which they reiterate their opinion that the area is unsuitable (again no reason given), British Columbians will have a reduced quality of life due to certain families not having access to the beach (Rathtrevor anyone?), the Parksville economy will crash, and that there will be disastrous financial consequences for those who own short-term vacation rentals.

The authors indicate that through taxes, they support affordable housing.

I suggest that even with the zoning changes, they can still contribute taxes, they just won’t be reaping a windfall in Airbnb revenue, which is unfortunate when viewed through the lens that one plans on generating wealth through the commodification of housing.

David Hendricks

Victoria

A business rule: Manage the exceptions

I received my B.C. Government Speculation and Vacancy Tax declaration package today.

Notwithstanding the validity of this program, a couple of things: Their own brochure states “more than 99% of people in B.C. are exempt BUT you still have to declare.”

Have our bureaucrats not heard of the Business 101 rule, manage the exceptions? Target the less than one per cent of the population who are supposed to pay the tax, not make the 99 per cent who are exempt jump through the same hoops.

Second, for the people who need to pay, why do we have a separate bureaucracy to handle this program? We already have our annual B.C. homeowners/property tax grant program to identify who owns property.

Add another box to separate principal residence owners from non-resident property owners and bill accordingly.

Why does common sense seem so highbrow now?

Len Jansen

Principal residence owner

Langford

Collect that water so we don’t fear drought

Thank you to the recent letter writer who suggested larger reservoirs need to be built.

During this winter’s cold snap our pipes froze and we had no water for 10 days. All water was carried into the house in 20-litre plastic jugs.

I recommend everyone try this. You will be shocked by how much is used to run a house.

The two of us showered elsewhere and did no laundry, but just for cooking, cleaning, drinking and flushing toilets we easily consumed 100 litres a day.

All winter we watch millions of litres of fresh water fall from the sky and flow into the ocean. If only there was an effort made to capture more of it.

With development and taxation out of control in Victoria and surrounding areas, maybe it’s time for local governments to get creative with water collection instead of money collection so we don’t have to fear drought in such a wet part of the world.

C. Scott Stofer

Victoria

Stop the madness at Langford stadium

The referendum on expanding Langford’s Starlight Stadium is really another tax on the people to support a few.

Why spend between $10 million and $14 million to expand a stadium that is underused?

As noted, attendance is below 4,000 with a capacity of 6,000 and council wants to add an additional 4,000 seats.

Why? If I were buying a house, this would be like buying a six-bedroom house for me and my wife (no kids) so I could pay more mortgage costs, utilities and taxes, just so I could brag to my friends I have a big house.

Where is the financial justification? What do the citizens get from this exclusive agreement? We don’t have the tax base of Victoria, or what Colwood will have soon, and my taxes are planned to go up double digits for the next three to five years. Stop the madness.

I will be looking for a new mayor and council if this vote passes.

Randall Stoyko

Langford

All those ideas, and lots of questions

Why is it that with so many ideas there are so few solutions?

Water sales, larger reservoirs, are worthy ideas. That is the first part, and a good start.

What comes next? Who buys and pays for the water? The end user, the consumer?

Should a middle person who provides the water (commodity) receive the sales proceeds? Should the middle person then pay their supplier? Is the middle person entitled to a profit for their efforts?

The Capital Regional District water department has created the local reservoir. Should it get the sales proceeds?

If the CRD receives the sales proceeds, when would the reservoir be enlarged?

Start collecting sales revenue now, and when they have the money they then build up the reservoir? Or, should the CRD start building right now?

Where will the CRD obtain funding? Through taxing the ratepayers, starting now?

Obtain debt financing? Issue bonds? Deficit financing — spending money that they currently do not have?

The idea is good, and a move in the right direction. Now let’s look at the next step. A good idea can only “bear fruit” if there is a solution.

Where is the solution?

Robert Townsend

Saanich

It’s the land that costs, not the house

Re: “The moral of the street lamp and the lost dime,” commentary, Feb. 3.

Many thanks to Bob Yates for his clear, well-written, and good-humoured commentary on housing and the B.C. government’s report.

He hits several nails squarely on the head with well-articulated basic questions that the government seems to have overlooked in its academic report.

Questions such as: demand (who? what?) and the twin issue of affordability (who will be buying all this new housing and what about the rest of us?) and the infrastructure that needs to go with new building.

I have another basic question: What has determined the skyrocketing price of land in Victoria and other cities?

We recently got the assessment for our home and once again, our house is valued at about 75 cents (slight exaggeration) while the land our 1,300 square foot house sits on is apparently worth over a million.

When and why and how did land become so expensive?

Heather MacAndrew

Victoria

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