PITT MEADOWS, BC – Council has directed staff to prepare a resolution to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) requesting a review of the current BC Assessment property tax rate for railway infrastructure in Pitt Meadows. Since 1996, railway infrastructure has been taxed as Class 6 Business. The goal is to ensure that all properties are equitably taxed to account for the increased burden on City services, operations as well as costly impacts to infrastructure.
“Railways differ greatly to any other business paying Class 6 property taxes,” says Mayor Bill Dingwall. “Offices, restaurants or retail locations are paying the same rate of tax as a railway. 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. It is more appropriate that railway activities be rated and taxed as Class 5 Light Industrial.”
Property classifications are defined by the BC Assessment Act. Tax rates are used to collect the revenues to balance the City budget to pay for the delivery of community services. Class 6 Business is intended for properties used as offices, retail, warehousing, hotels and motels as well as some properties that do not fall into other classes as defined by BC Assessment. Class 4 Major Industry is reserved for lumber and pulp mills, mines, smelters or large manufacturers of specified products.
“If existing CP properties tax classification was adjusted from Class 6 Business to Class 5 Light Industrial, the City would receive an estimated $440,000 more tax revenue per year,” says Chief Administrative Officer Mark Roberts. “If the proposed CP Logistics Park is also successfully classified as Class 5 Light Industrial, an additional $660,000 in property taxes would be collected. Additional tax revenue would help offset the significant financial burden borne by the City in addressing road infrastructure replacement, fire protection services and the increased burden on other City operations as a result of CP activities.”
“The proposed CP Logistics Park exacerbates an already challenging situation,” says Mayor Bill Dingwall. “Kennedy Road was not designed to accommodate hundreds of semi trucks accessing the existing Vancouver Intermodal Terminal on a daily basis. Housing large grain silos, transload and storage of ethanol fuels are deemed a high fire hazard. To meet the Canadian National Fire Protection Association Standards, 24 Fire Services Technicians (FSTs), with specialized training, would need to be on shift 24 hours per day, seven days per week. In 2021, Pitt Meadows will have eight FSTs, or only one third of the resources required to provide appropriate response to the CP Logistics Park and community protection.”
Provincial legislation related to railway property taxation was updated in 1996 with the intent of reducing taxation on rail companies to facilitate new rail investment deemed necessary to support growing populations in Canada. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), a collective voice for BC local governments, advocated for halting the reduction of railway taxation and exploration of other avenues to support rail companies.
Despite the efforts of UBCM to halt the reduced taxation, the Government of British Columbia proceeded with the legislation. “Approximately 20 years has passed since the railway taxation reductions,” says Mayor Bill Dingwall. “Council is taking an advocacy role by requesting a review of the legislation.”
The first step is for City staff to prepare a resolution which Council would present for consideration at the LMLGA this spring for a review of the BC Assessment Act property classification assigned to railway activities. Upon LMLGA endorsement of the resolution, it would be forwarded to the UBCM’s fall conference for consideration. Resolutions endorsed by UBCM are then conveyed to the provincial government for consideration.
Visit pittmeadows.ca/news for the latest information.
For more information please contact:
Manager of Communications & Community Engagement
City of Pitt Meadows