As the City of Castlegar moves forward with its controversial new parcel tax, some strata residents have requested an exemption.
Residents at Stellar Place sent their strata council president, Dino Zanet, to council to request that they exempt parcels in Stellar Place from the parcel tax bylaw.
Properties in Stellar Place do not connect to the city’s storm sewer system. Rather the strata has its own system with nine catch basins and seven soak aways. Last year, when Stellar Place requested to connect to the city’s system for overflow, the city said no, and the strata paid $25,000 to have another soak away installed instead.
Because Stellar Place residents have had to pay for their own storm water management, they don’t feel it’s fair that each strata owner should also have to pay the city’s $150 parcel tax for the next 10 years. So they’ve asked the city to exempt individual strata parcels and charge them based on the four lots fronting Columbia Ave.
“We’re asking them to consider a modification to the bylaw that would exempt all the individual parcels of land from paying tax and we would just pay as a strata,” explains Zanet. “So basically [we’d pay for] the frontage.”
But BC law stipulates that “a parcel tax … must be imposed on all parcels within the municipality, other than those that are exempt from the tax.” Parcel taxes can be based on the taxable frontage of the parcel, but then that must apply to all the parcels being taxed.
The law does allow municipalities to waive or reduce the tax if the owner of the parcel has provided part or all of the service the tax is meant to fund at their own expense, but Stellar Place isn’t being considered under this exemption because the storm water management improvements the tax will fund are not specific to any given property.
“The money that we’re raising and the projects we’re proposing to do are all general projects and some of those are on Columbia Ave.,” says Chris Barlow, director of transportation and civic works. “None of the projects that we’re doing are making direct connections to any property.”
As for why Stellar Place can’t used the city’s storm water system, Barlow says it’s the same rules for all businesses along Columbia Ave.
“Part of development along Columbia Ave. is they’re required to handle their storm water on site,” he explains. “And the reason they were declined having their overflow into [the city’s system] is because there isn’t the capacity in the existing system to accommodate all of their flows as well.”