Thursday, September 1, 2011

UBCM Resolution seeking power for local governments to have a natural areas tax exemption

The UBCM annual convention is coming up and there are a host or resolutions being proposed, one of them, B90 (full text below) is asking for regional districts to be able to be able to give property tax exemptions for natural areas that private people want to protect.   While I can see reasons why local governments may wish to have this power, the implications of another reduction in taxes for some properties may be problematic.    


A current problem in BC is that many local governments have shifted the burden of costs for local government to business and industry in a dramatic fashion.   The property taxes charged of utilities such as pipelines, telecommunications and others can be simply outside of the realm of acceptable.   By allowing local governments to not tax certain properties will only increase the burden on other taxpayers.


It also concerns me that this is effectively a 'bribe' of property owners with public money.   The land does not come into public ownership but the public is effectively paying to protect private lands.   If the land is worth protecting, local governments should buy the land and protect.   If the money is not there and there is not public support for protecting the land.   


I suspect this resolution will pass because few people in local government are putting much thought into the implications of local government tax policies.


B90 NATURAL AREA TAX EXEMPTION PROGRAM Sunshine Coast RD
WHEREAS the Islands Trust currently offers a Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program which provides property tax relief of up to 65% for owners who wish to enter into a conservation covenant to protect important natural features of their property;
AND WHEREAS regional districts may wish to support and encourage property owners to preserve natural areas for the benefit of future generations:


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development be requested to grant local governments the legislative authority to implement natural area protection tax exemption programs.
ENDORSED BY THE ASSOCIATION OF VANCOUVER ISLAND AND COASTAL COMMUNITIES


UBCM RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION:
Endorse with Amendment Proposed
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development be requested to grant local governments the authority to implement natural area protection tax exemption programs.


UBCM RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE COMMENTS:
The Resolutions Committee advises that the UBCM membership has not previously considered a resolution
calling on the Province to grant regional districts the legislative authority to implement natural area protection
tax exemption programs.
An amendment is proposed because the authority to legislate is not required for local governments to implement
natural area protection tax exemption programs
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