The District of Squamish is working to complete a tax agreement with Woodfibre LNG, a priority work for District staff.
According to a memo sent to council by Gary Buxton, General Manager, Community Planning and Sustainability, the District is entering into negotiations with WLNG to complete a tax agreement to glean benefits for the community rather than promoting or subsidizing the industry. The Community Charter allows a local government to adopt a revitalization tax exemption bylaw to charge an organization property tax differently than the regular property tax system.
The primary purpose of that legislation is to allow local governments to incentivize economic development through tax exemptions. However, that legislation can also be used for other purposes.
In this case, the District is entering into negotiations for a tax agreement which would enable certainty for the WLNG business model planning and, in exchange for that certainty, provide a tax premium to the community.
This agreement would specify in advance what WLNG will pay in taxes for up to ten years rather than tying the tax rate to variable assessment values. According to the memo, the District’s goal is to negotiate an agreement whereby WLNG, in exchange for the tax certainty, will pay a tax premium that is calculated differently than the ordinary tax rates and assessment process.
Should a negotiated tax agreement not be achieved, WLNG will pay property tax according to the regular process using the BC Assessment value and Major Industry tax rate, the memo notes.