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Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

After 30 years as Greater Victoria regulars, Bob and Jan Fleming are selling their famous Tulip House on Beach Drive.

The couple are Americans who split their year between Oak Bay (near downtown Victoria) and Marin County, California. They’ve spent many months here every year since they bought the home in 1989. And they’ve worked tirelessly on the home, especially the flower beds, reaching a point of local fame.

“It’s been quite a pleasure being part of the community,” Fleming said. “It’s been very satisfying to see so many people being pleased with the flowers. People take pictures and send them to us, with thank yous, and we’ve had people knocking on the door, thanking us.”

READ MORE: Famed ‘Tulip House’ goes for new record

But the future of the flower beds are now in question as Bob Fleming blames B.C.’s new speculation and vacancy tax for forcing them out of the country. As a foreign owner, the couple are charged a two per cent tax on the assessed value of the house. B.C. Assessment’s 2019 assessment for the property is $1.368 million, which amounts to $27,360, annually.

Bob Fleming prepping the flower beds in the fall of 2018. (Keri Coles/News Staff)

“I’m sorry to say it, but it puts us in an unfortunate position,” Fleming said. “We’ve had good memories. And now we’ll have the memory of being kicked out of the country. Canada is not very receptive now to second home people.”

The speculation and vacancy tax applies to residences in the Capital Regional District, including Oak Bay. The couple might purchase a home somewhere else in Canada but are unsure at this point.

In the meantime, the Tulip House is listed for $1.395 million. It has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a total of 3,700 square feet (including a finished 1,400 sq. ft. basement).

“It was supposed to be our retirement home,” Fleming said. “We are only a couple years out from retiring. It’s just the way it goes.”

READ ALSO: Photo gallery of Oak Bay garden putting petal to the metal for summer flowers

They started the flower beds years ago with a small bed, and every year the made it a little bigger and better, he said.

This spring the beds boasted 12,000 tulips and currently there are 12 different varieties of begonias.

“We try to make it better every year because we get so many people coming by, the tour buses, tourists, residents, and it’s been a real pleasure when they come by and chat with us.

“We’ve also spent a lot of money on flowers, on food, on house maintenance, and if it were only $700 or something like that we could afford it. But we can’t afford that extra $25,000 to 30,000.”

Meanwhile, Fleming noted it’s common for Canadians to own places in California and Arizona.

“We don’t tax extra in the U.S. Not only does B.C. tax foreigners but also other Canadians. It’s obvious we’re not welcome.”

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Travis Paterson

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Travis Paterson

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