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Hundreds gather in Vancouver to protest proposed school tax

Last Updated May 2, 2018 at 6:57 am PDT

Vancouver property owners gather at Trimble Park in Point Grey to protest the provincial government's proposed school tax on property values. (Photo by Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130)

Hundreds of Vancouver homeowners gathered at Trimble Park to protest the provincial government's proposed school tax

Tax to fund schools would be tied to property values for homes over $3 million

The Shaughnessy Heights Property Owners' Association organized a rally

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Hundreds of Vancouver homeowners gathered in Point Grey to protest a new school tax announced by the province, despite a cancelled town hall on the issue.

At least 300 people convened on the lawn at Trimble Park after their rally prompted Attorney General David Eby to cancel his nearby open house. Protesters say it’s a tax on unrealized capital gains.

“The federal government does not tax people on unrealized capital gains. You wait. It’s paper wealth,” Shaughnessy resident Esther Chetner said. “And yet somehow our provincial government feels that it’s legal and conscionable.”

Chetner said she supports the NDP on many issues, including its opposition to the TransMountain pipeline expansion, but said the proposed school tax on homes could put her senior neighbours across the street at risk of having to give up their homes.

She is also concerned the tax could prompt landlords to raise rents or sell, removing rental space from an already tight Vancouver market.

The proposed tax would be applied to properties valued at more than $3 million to generate more funding for education.

Rally organizers from the Shaughnessy Heights Property Owners’ Association (SHPOA) argue the tax “has nothing to do with schools and unfairly targets homeowners — many of whom are pensioners or families — by potentially raising their property tax bill by thousands of dollars a year.”

“Many, many people will be pushed out of their homes,” SHPOA secretary MaryAnn Cummings said. “It’s basically robbing from the elderly. It is taxing imaginary gains.”

“If you had a stock and you bought it at $10 and it went up to $50 and you taxed you on the $50, but you didn’t sell it, and then it went to $35 and they taxed you on the $35, and then it went to $10, how would you feel about that? It’s not good economics. This is nothing more than a wealth tax which is dressed up like a school tax.”

Cummings also takes issue with Eby not campaigning on the issue ahead of the last election.

“It is only fair and democratic and transparent to say ‘This is what we plan to do. These are the reasons we think it’s a good idea.’ Not a word was said,” she argues.

Paula Maisonville helped organize today’s Point Grey protest.

“We’re not loaded by any stretch of the imagination….We have a modest income and a modest pension… If I’d have known I would face a tax like this, I would have kept working,” Maisonville said to the crowd.

Tamara Knott lives in the area and she says the NDP’s school tax “is an eviction notice to my family.” Her statement met with cheers and others chiming in with ‘me toos’.

Protesters signed a petition asking Eby to ditch the school tax or change how the money is collected, liking including it in income taxes.

The West Point Grey Residents Association is inviting Eby to its town hall meeting on Sunday.