B.C. to extend tax breaks for ports

The British Columbia government plans to extend a property tax cap for 20 major West Coast industrial ports for another 10 years to ensure the ports “remain competitive into the future,” the province said yesterday.

The Ports Competitiveness Initiative, first introduced in 2003, caps the municipal property tax rates for eligible port facilities and compensates local governments for the “resulting impact.”

Pending approval in the B.C. legislature, the initiative, starting in 2009, would continue a tax rate cap of $27.50 per $1,000 of assessed value on existing investments, as well as a tax rate cap of $22.50 per $1,000 of new investments for 10 years on improvements built before the end of 2018.

The new deal would also increase the compensation that the province pays to affected municipalities and index payments to the rate of inflation from 2009 to 2018.

The extended initiative also allows municipalities the option to negotiate their own 10-year “ports competitive” agreements with port operators, as per provisions in B.C.’s 2003 Community Charter legislation. The province said any such agreements would not affect a municipality’s ability to get provincial compensation.

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