Pitt Meadows city council has begun the process of lobbying senior government for a higher tax rate on CP Rail’s properties.
In January, council responded to CP Rail’s proposed new logistics park development by saying there is a disconnect between the burden placed on the city by the railway operations and its tax rate.
Tuesday night, council passed a resolution that it hopes will be supported by other cities, as they lobby for the end of what council considers an historic tax break.
“It’s an ambitious, but very important endeavour that I believe this council is undertaking,” said Coun. Nicole MacDonald. “We’ve unearthed here, basically, what is an issue of fairness and equity in regards to taxation.”
She called the tax break for the railway “archaic,” and noted the CP would be storing fuel and grains, which are both fire hazards. It will also be increasing truck traffic in the city. So there is a strain on the on-call fire department and city infrastructure.
“They are getting taxed at the same rate as our doctors, our retail stores, our pubs, our restaurants, and a lot of those are locally owned businesses that are trying to make a living.”
“Typical businesses do not transport dangerous goods, interrupt traffic flow, generate noise 24 hours per day, seven days per week, impede emergency response or pollute the environment,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall in January. “It is more appropriate that railway activities be rated and taxed as Class 5 Light Industrial.”
If they were taxed at that rate, the city would receive an additional $1.1 million from CP’s Pitt Meadows operations.
The resolution notes the B.C. Assessment Act gives railway operations a tax break, and says the legislation creates unfair taxation. It asks for the Union of B.C. Municipalities to urge the provincial government to repeal that section of the act.
It will first go to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association for consideration, and if supported there, would go to the Union of B.C. Municipalities. The LMLGA will hold a virtual conference and AGM on May 12-14.
MacDonald is anticipating support for the resolution.
“We’ve had other municipalities reach out to us, because they are experiencing these issues with CP Rail,” she said.
CP Rail had no comment about the city resolution.
Council also passed a similar motion to have the UBCM to ask the province to change the Assessment Act to allow for a higher tax rate for industrial parks, referencing the Golden Ears Business Park.
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