North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice presented a petition to the legislative assembly calling on the provincial government to eliminate the port tax cap bill on Mar. 9.
More than 1,700 petitioners are asking the B.C. government to amend the Ports Property Tax Act as soon as possible. Specifically, they would like to see a sunset clause be reinstated, which would set an end date for the bill or to have Prince Rupert be exempt from the bill entirely.
The port tax cap, which was adopted by the B.C. Liberals, in 2004, set a maximum mill rate for certain port terminals. While it was originally designed as a five-year incentive to spur port investment, the port tax cap was later made permanent.
“Granting petitioners this request will have numerous benefits, such as the tax burden will no longer be unfairly shifted from port industries to homeowners and small businesses,” Rice said.
She went on to add that getting rid of the port tax cap could also save the provincial treasury millions of dollars, help avoid the risk of a trade war with the United States and restore municipal tax autonomy.
“Port properties will finally pay their fair share of property taxes to support vital investments in the community,” she said.
Petitions that are submitted to the legislative assembly must follow certain requirements, including that petitioners must be residents of B.C. and a petition has to have at least one signature. There is no minimum age requirement though to sign a petition.
Once a member of the legislative assembly presents a petition that meets the requirements, it becomes an official record of the Legislative Assembly of B.C. and is made public.
Last September, a group that called themselves Scrap the Tax Cap Citizens Coalition launched the petition.
The group wrote that the objective of the call was not just to ensure port industries pay their fair share of taxes but also to bring attention to the matter as an election issue just over a month prior to the municipal election race.
With files from K-J Millar