Council Reduces Taxes on Farm and Forest Land

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: April 20, 2013

While many people in Squamish find the proposed residential taxes unpalatable, there are at least a few who would be thanking the council.

Coast Aggregates, a company owned by local resident Bob Fast, is one of the beneficiaries of a new revised policy on farm and forest lands.

Squamish council voted to reduce the tax rate on forest managed and farm zoned land, bringing it in line with BC average.

David Rittberg of Coast Aggregates recently wrote to the council asking them to review the tax structure to make it more equitable.

He didn’t return calls or emails from the Reporter, but pointed in his letter to the council that the managed forest tax rate was the highest of any municipality in Squamish, 20 times the B.C. average.

The farm tax rate for Squamish was also 15 times the provincial average.

Rittberg said the farm tax rate isn’t just punitive, but also violates the Official Community Plan, which states local food production as a policy objective.

“The reality of achieving local food production within the district is not sustainable given the unreasonable tax burden,” he said.

His calls to provide for a level playing field were heeded by the district.

District spokesperson Christina Moore said these two classes were not being treated fairly, and it was determined that this would discourage farming and sustainable forestry practices in our community.

“Taxation policy was seen to contradict not only long term financial policy but also community values of environmental sustainability and local food production,” she said.   

There are currently two tax folios in each category and a total assessment base of $673,798 across both categories.

The burden of these two taxes was shifted to residential class, a shift $75,500 for the Municipal levy. 

That shift results in about a 0.7% estimated tax increase to the Residential class average, Moore added.