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'Air tax' above shops driving companies out of business: B.C. Liberals

Last Updated Oct 23, 2019 at 3:32 pm PST

The BC Legislature in Victoria. (Martin MacMahon, NEWS 1130)
Summary

The cost of air above some B.C. businesses is sending them right out of business and the BC Liberals want that to change

The party wants municipalities to be able to set their own tax rates for air space above a business

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The B.C. Liberals continue to push the province to ease up on taxing businesses for what could be built into the air above them, saying it’s causing some companies to shut up shop.

The party tabled a private member’s bill asking for the province to give municipalities the power to set their own air tax. It’s a change some cities across Metro Vancouver and other communities are calling for.

Liberal Todd Stone says what they are suggesting is pretty simple: “to basically set a lower property tax on the unused airspace above a particular parcel of property.”

He used arguments the Premier’s chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, made in favour of such a change back in 2016 when he was a Vancouver councillor.

“Two, three years ago, there was no broad coalition of support for action: in fact, there were many ideas tossed around as potential solutions for this problem,” Stone said. “What we have today is an absolutely unprecedented unanimity.”

Calls for this kind of change have been made before, including when the Liberals were last in power.

But now, Stone says what’s different is that communities and stakeholders agree on a path forward.

“Not only is this a big big problem, but here’s a practical solution: they’ve written it. That didn’t exist two three years ago,” he said.

The Liberals want these new rules for municipalities to be in place for the next tax year.

The province has said it is reviewing what can be done.