Editorial: Tax time

It's time for city council’s annual trip south to the Union of BC Municipalities convention.

IT’S time for city council’s annual trip south to the Union of BC Municipalities convention.

This year, the association of local governments meets Sept. 24-28 at the Victoria Conference Centre, a short sprint through the lobby of the adjoining Empress Hotel from the legislative buildings in the Inner Harbour and as pretty a spot as you’ll find in any urban landscape.

But this time city council has more than the view and usual conference goodies on its mind.

Together with the Kitimat-Stikine regional district, city council has financed a $17,000 study into tax fairness. It’s a key part of the effort to have the provincial government turn over portions of tax revenue that’ll be generated from the major northwest economic development projects either underway or about to start.

It’s not an unreasonable request. The premise is that local governments are being asked to provide services for these new projects, located beyond local taxing authority jurisdictions, without the benefit of tax revenues to offset the expense.

There’s ample precedent for a program of this kind – northeastern local governments receive a piece of the tax revenues collected by the province from that region’s oil and gas industries.

So it is not a matter of should this happen in the northwest. It’s a matter of how and when it happens, meaning the job of the city and regional district is to get a fair deal.