Message from the Mayor

Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians. (A story of Frustration)

This Federal Act has negatively impacted employment and investment in Sun Peaks.  Foreign purchasers have a positive impact on our local economy because they are long term visitors. In addition, when they are not staying in Sun Peaks, many make their accommodations available for rental to other Sun Peaks visitors.  Their investments in Sun Peaks properties are a total commitment to Sun Peaks, it is their Canadian ski resort, and they are big Sun Peaks promoters in their home markets.  Foreign owners influence their friends and neighbours to also holiday in Sun Peaks. This has all helped to create Sun Peaks as a leading mountain resort in terms foreign visitors to Canada. The strength of our foreign visitors is that they are here mid-week and stay for 4 to 5 weeks or longer. Approximately 37% of all overnight visitors to Sun Peaks are foreigners and some 17% of all properties in Sun Peaks are owned by foreigners.  The municipality estimates that foreigner spending in Sun Peaks is over $70 million dollars per year.

Council members are asked by both Canadians and foreigners when the prohibition will be lifted.  Initially the Act was only for a two-year period and was to expire on December 31, 2024.  On February, the Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, announced an extension of the Act for another two-year period. 

In early 2022 the Government clearly announced that it would not apply to recreational markets and tourist areas. In mid-2022, the Government announced how they would define areas where the Act was in-force and we discovered that they would use Statscan map designations of Metropolitan and nearby areas.  Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality is located within the Census Metropolitan Area of the City of Kamloops, thus the prohibition applied in Sun Peaks.  Whistler, Big White and most international destination winter resorts in Canada are not designated as prohibition locations.  However, Sun Peaks, Silver Star and Apex resorts have foreign purchase prohibitions while all other destinations resorts are not prohibited from selling to foreigners and this has been an unintended consequence of national legislation.  While the B.C. government has also implemented housing legislation to encourage more housing, they have clearly not applied most of the rules to resort areas.

Once we realized that Sun Peaks was unintentionally caught by this Act, we immediately contacted our Member of Parliament (M.P) Frank Caputo and sought his advice. A meeting was held with M.P. Caputo, Whistler’s Acting Mayor and Member of Parliament Patrick Weiler (M.P. for the Whistler area) M.P.s Weiler and Caputo suggested they would follow up with the Minister of Housing. In this meeting, the two members of Parliament indicated that the prohibition was not intended to apply to recreational property.


In December 2022 multiple emails and telephone calls were placed to Federal Senior Policy Finance Advisor Mr. Douglas Wong and Federal Policy Housing Advisor Mr. Aadil Nathani. Mr. Nathani advised by email that the ban would not apply to municipalities or townships with a population of 10,000 people or less. 

From January 2023 and up until early March 2023, in spite of all reassurances that the ban would not apply to Sun Peaks, the wording in that Act indicated that it would apply to Sun Peaks as we were designated as part of the City of Kamloops. The Canadian Ski Council met with Mr. Nathani and Mr. Micah Richardson, Deputy Director of Housing fand follow up emails were sent in January.  Another meeting with Mr. Richardson was held.  In February emailed copies of a letter to the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing were sent to two Provincial Ministers.  Letters were also sent to senior staff at Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) Ms. Nadine Leblanc and Mr. Chris Woodcock and follow-up indicated that CMHC was working on a resolution to the issue.

Municipal Efforts

Below is a timeline of efforts by the Municipality in collaboration with other stakeholders:
December 2022 

The Mountain Resorts Branch with the Ministry of Tourism and Canada West Ski Areas Association was contacted and noted this issue and they were both very supportive and indicated that they would be contacting their federal counterparts.  We were informed that the file was active and that Ministry staff were consulting with CMHC staff in Ottawa. Numerous meetings took place but no resolution as to how to move forward.

January 5, 2023 

Sun Peaks began direct communications with a request to M.P. Frank Caputo outlining the issues and requesting that he meet with Minister Hussen to explain that Sun Peaks should be excluded.  

January 6, 2023 

We wrote to Minister Hussen suggesting there was an oversight and that Sun Peaks should be an exception. 

January 10, 2023 

M.P Frank Caputo introduces M.P. Scott Aitchison and he agrees to approach Minister Hussen with an exception request.  

January 23, 2023 

Letter sent to Minister Boissonault with copies sent to senior staff with Ministry of Housing, Finance and CMHC..  Ms. Leblanc at CMHC was the only person who responded and she noted that the consultation period had ended in August 2022 but noted our concerns.  Several more emails between Ms. Leblanc and Mayor on the issue requesting an ‘exception’ for Sun Peaks.  Ms. Leblanc did note that some changes in the regulations were coming, however on the April 12, 2023 amendments to the ‘Regulations’, the issues impacting Sun Peaks, Silver Star and Apex were not addressed.  Follow up with Ms. Leblanc indicated there was little that she could do to assist us, the issue is at a Minister level.

March 2023 

Several emails were sent to the Prime Minister’s staff in Ottawa and Vancouver requesting a review of this issue.  Staff did respond sympathetically and referred us to Ministry of Finance and Housing however no real action occurred. Again, we wrote to Minister Boissonault’s and federal Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s B.C. office.  A second letter was sent to Minster Hussen’s office noting our disappointment that the issue had not been addressed.

April 6, 2023 

Representatives from Sun Peaks Resort LLP and Silver Star Resort met with Minister Boissonnault in Kelowna where the Minister assured both parties that if an oversight had been made, it would be quickly corrected. Letters were written to the Minister by both ski area operators to confirm their understanding of his support.

June 6, 2023  

Sun Peaks Mayor and CAO held a 40-minute meeting with Minister Hussen and made a presentation.  The Minister indicated that he wished to help but staff did not know how to correct the issue.  He didn’t want to do something specific for B.C. ski areas and wanted some approach that would be nationwide.

July 11, 2023 

Municipal representatives travelled to Ottawa and met with both CMHC staff and Statistics Canada senior staff.

Statscan staff indicated how they designate CMA and CA status based on agreement and consultation with the Provinces. Statscan staff indicated that they could not change their approach in mid-stream and that they were not aware nor had they been consulted by the Ministry of Housing or CMHC that they were using their Statscan census data for this Act. 

A meeting was held  with Ms. Leblanc and staff in their CMHC offices. CMHC staff took the position that it was too late and legally they could not change anything without going back to Parliament and they would not recommend this as it is a timely process and besides the legislation is only for a 2-year period.

Legal Follow-up after the Meeting with CMHC

MP Frank Caputo’s office made a request to the Parliamentary Library for an interpretation of the Act. Question to the Library.  Given the wording of the Act, could recreational properties within a CMA or CA be given an exemption without requiring an amendment to the Act?
Precisely, could the Minister make a clarification that did allow for such an exemption?
Response Received from the Parliamentary Library 
The Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion after consultation with the Minister of Finance, has the authority through regulations to set definitions, exceptions and clarifications to the Act. Section 8(d) of the Act provides:
8 (1) The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister after consultation with the Minister of Finance, make regulations
(a) defining “control” for the purposes of this Act;
(b) respecting what constitutes a purchase for the purposes of this Act;
(c) respecting the making of orders under section 7; and
(d) prescribing anything that by this Act is to be prescribed.

With the Parliamentary Library finding, we rewrote to the Minister of Housing and Minister of Finance and a number of senior Ministry staff to point out that the CMHC position was in fact incorrect and that the Ministries of Finance and Housing could after consultation, make ‘exceptions’ to the Act.  
The Province of British Columbia, through the Mountain Resorts Branch also again made representations to both CMHC and the Federal Tourism Minister requesting an exception  for the 3 B.C. resort communities. 

Sun Peaks Municipality has written more than 24 emails and letters to a number of Ministers and senior staff within those ministries believing that this was an oversight with unintended consequences that would be quickly addressed. There was no traction whatsoever.

July 2023

The Government of Canada announced Cabinet changes.  Minister Hussen was replaced by Minister Sean Fraser in the Housing Ministry.  On July 23rd, 2023, we wrote to new Minster Sean Fraser and outlined the history of the file and requested his immediate attention.  At about the same time, the Canadian Ski Council also wrote to the Minister. The Mayor also wrote to the Federal Tourism Minister, Soraya Martinez Ferrada, however this letter was never acknowledged.  

February 2024 

The Act was set to expire on December 31st, 2024.  On February 4th, 2024, Minister Freeland announced a two-year extension to the Act.  We then began to regroup. The Canadian Ski council, along with Sun Peaks Resort LLP and Silver Star Resort agreed to join forces and hire a public relations consultant to assist with the presentation of the issues to senior Ministry staff and Ministers.  A contract was signed by the three parties and regular meetings began to take place.  To date, it has been suggested that this matter not only requires the approval of the two Ministers involved but it must also go to Treasury Board for approval and that any proposed changes would need to be ‘gazetted’(all formal notices, regulations and bills tabled in Parliament must be published in the Gazette – the Government of Canada’s official “newspaper”).  Time to do all of this is estimated at a minimum of 9 months, so perhaps late 2024.

In addition, we sought support from the Thompson Nicola Regional District and the City of Kamloops for an ‘exception’ under the Act. Both local governments wrote letters indicating that associating Sun Peaks with the City of Kamloops was not realistic and that they supported Sun Peaks’ request for an ‘exception’.  Minister Fraser did respond to both local governments and suggested that the interpretation by Statscan on the inclusion of Sun Peaks as part of Kamloops was correct.  He did also say that they were looking at the situation and were open to a review of the situation.

June 6, 2024 

Councillor Len Hrycan and the Mayor organized a meeting with the Pacific Caucus of the Federal Liberal party and Paul Pinchbeck from Ski Canada and Darcy Alexander from Sun Peaks Resort LLP joined us for a 20-minute presentation to the B.C. group.  After our presentation, members asked us a few questions and it was clear that they understood the situation.  They indicated that they are in support of an ‘exception’ for the three resorts and that they would write a letter indicating their support to Ministers Fraser and Freeland.

Since January 2024, Sun Peaks Resort LLP and Silver Star Resorts continue to meet weekly with the consultants. We remain slightly optimistic that the new Minister, the Honourable Sean Fraser, will examine the file and that he would conclude that an ‘exception’ should be granted however nothing in Ottawa moves quickly.

Mayor Al Raine