British Columbians in 54 municipalities will benefit from new and updated public infrastructure and critical services, thanks to grants in lieu of property taxes totalling more than $16 million.
“We’re proud to support the important work local governments do every day to create jobs, strengthen our local economies and deliver the services British Columbians rely on,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Minister of Citizens’ Services. “These annual grants play a critical role in helping local governments with planning – they use the funding to provide vital services and infrastructure that help improve people’s lives.”
Each November, the Province pays grants in lieu of property taxes to municipalities and regional districts for services they provide in their communities, such as parks, sewers, roads and fire protection. The grants are for properties owned by the provincial government, such as office buildings, warehouses and courthouses. Municipalities use these grants to fund and maintain priority public services and local infrastructure projects.
One of the communities that is benefiting from the grants is Kamloops.
“As I travel the province, Kamloops stands out as a hub for tourism, health and education,” said Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Kamloops is a shining example of a strong and vibrant community, and it’s great to be able to celebrate the work the city will be able to do with the help of this financial contribution.”
Kahlon met with Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian as part of an economic development tour of the B.C. Interior on Nov. 13-14, 2019. The City of Kamloops is receiving nearly $1.3 million through grants in lieu this year.
“Liveability and affordability are two strategic advantages Kamloops enjoys,” Christian said. “With this money, we will be able to continue making infrastructure enhancements, such as the Todd Road pedestrian upgrades, the West Victoria Street reconstruction project and continue to support social housing initiatives in our city.”
Grant calculations are determined under the Municipal Aid Act. Provincially owned properties are exempt from taxes under the federal Constitution Act. However, for certain properties, such as government buildings, the Province pays a grant in lieu of taxes. Other provincially owned properties, such as roads and parks, are exempt from paying grants in lieu of taxes under the Municipal Aid Act. Schools and hospitals are also exempt under the law as they are not owned by the provincial government.
- The Province is exempt from paying taxes to municipal governments under the federal Constitution Act.
- However, starting in 1963, the Government of B.C. recognized its responsibility to compensate municipalities for local services that benefit provincially owned properties.
- That’s why, despite the exemption, the B.C. government pays municipalities and regional districts the same general municipal and regional district amount through grants in lieu that would otherwise be paid through property taxes.
- Each municipality then distributes a portion of the funds to its regional district, where applicable, and those governments use the money to help pay for local services.
For more information on grants in lieu of taxes for local governments in B.C., visit: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/local-governments/finance/requisition-taxation/grants-in-lieu-of-taxes
A backgrounder follows.