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Several B. C. Companies Take Stand Against High Property Taxes


July 1, 2009
By Pulp & Paper Canada

TORONTO — A deadline for payment of municipal property taxes has passed in British Columbia, with mixed reactions. Catalyst Paper, protesting its tax rate, paid only $1.5 million each to four B. C. m…

TORONTO — A deadline for payment of municipal property taxes has passed in British Columbia, with mixed reactions. Catalyst Paper, protesting its tax rate, paid only $1.5 million each to four B. C. municipalities. Likewise, Mercer International reportedly did not pay its taxes to Castlegar, while TimberWest did not pay its bill to Campbell River in full. West Fraser is reported to have paid its bill to Kitimat for the Eurocan pulp mill, but all four companies, independently, are challenging various municipalities in court, protesting the high tax rate.

In early June, Catalyst Paper petitioned to the Supreme Court of British Columbia for judicial review of recently set property tax rates in North Cowichan, Port Alberni, Campbell River, and Powell River. These are the four municipalities where its B. C. paper mills are located. It seeks declarations, under Section 262 of the Local Government Act, that the tax rates are unreasonable and therefore beyond the municipalities’ jurisdiction.

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Catalyst Paper owed $23 million in property taxes to the four municipalities.

Mercer, TimberWest, and West Fraser have initiated similar actions.

Quoted in the Vancouver Sun, Ken McRae, mayor of Port Alberni, called Catalyst’s tax revolt unacceptable. “I was really hoping they wouldn’t break the law,” he said.

McRae told the Vancouver Sun the tax shortfall –$3.3 million in his community — means the town will have to draw down on its reserves, money it hoped to use to lever federal and provincial stimulus funds for shovel-ready projects.


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