People in 55 communities throughout the province, including eight on Vancouver Island, will benefit from more than $17 million in grants in lieu of municipal property taxes this year.
“Through our annual grants-in-lieu program, we’re reimbursing municipalities for the important services they provide to provincial properties so they can fund the services and projects that meet the needs of their communities,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “The funding makes a big difference in communities throughout B.C., particularly now, as local governments and the people they serve navigate the economic impacts of the pandemic.”
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, fire protection and other infrastructure projects. 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.
“These annual grants play an important role in the budget process,” said Sharie Minions, mayor, Port Alberni. “Council utilizes these funds in achieving a balanced property tax rate, toward accelerated infrastructure renewal and for the provision of vital services that impact the community’s well-being.”
Grant calculations are determined under the Municipal Aid Act. Schools and hospitals are exempt from paying municipal property taxes and are not part of the grants-in-lieu calculation. Also excluded from compensation under the Municipal Aid Act are provincial assets, including highways, forests, and parks or land under the control, management or administration of a Crown corporation.
“Local governments throughout the Province, including here in Saanich, provide many programs and services that people rely on,” said Murray Rankin, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head. “The work they do is critical for building healthy communities, and that’s why we are supporting local governments.”
The Ministry of Citizens’ Services distributes the funds electronically on behalf of the provincial government.
- The Province is exempt from paying taxes to municipal governments under the federal Constitution Act.
- In 1963, the Government of B.C. recognized its responsibility to compensate municipalities for local services that benefit provincially owned properties.
- That is 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:
A backgrounder follows.