Monday, October 15, 2018

The Ridley Island Tax Agreement: Discussion ... Debate ... Duel? or maybe just some Disclosure!

The Bridge heading towards Port Edward,
with Ridley Island in the background

(photo Google maps)

The volume of digital bytes used up over the last few days (not to mention audio volume of the discussion) on the theme of the Ridley Island Tax Agreement increased just a little bit more in content as last week came to an end.

That as Councillor Blair Mirau dipped a toe into the waters that at times were boiling through the week,  to reflect on the events since Mayor Lee Brain took to his Facebook Page to ramp up the acoustics on the topic of fair shares of Tax Revenue distribution from the current agreement between the two communities.

As part of Mr. Mirau's presentation, he offers up a link to an item from the weekly paper, which has seen the Mayor shift the narrative a bit, now calling for some form of a public debate on the issue.

Though before we pass the popcorn and settle in for the show, there are a few steps that the City could take to provide for more disclosure on this bubbling tempest.

As both the Mayor and Mr. Mirau reminds us in their respective contributions, there have been five facilitators and a mediator so far in the process, one imagines that they surely kept notes and provided a summary of the discussion for the two parties, so the city perhaps might want to share the findings of all of  that consultation on the ongoing dispute.

As well, both the Mayor and the councillor have observed that a detailed provincial analysis on the situation was delivered in relation to the 1981 deal, something that might be a useful addition to the current narrative.

One segment of Mayor Lee Brain's many contributions to
last weeks Facebook commentary on the Ridley Island Tax issue

(click to enlarge)

In his passage on his campaign website, Mr, Mirau calls for us not to get caught up in the moment ...

A passage from Councillor Blair Mirau's election campaign page
on the theme of the Ridley Island tax issue

(click to enlarge)

That, even though, it was the social media contributions of his two fellow City Council members, that appear to have created that loud provocative moment in the first place.

For much of the Facebook accounts of last week, the Mayor and Mr. Niesh at times, came across as those two loud guys at a social event, that you really don't want to end up sitting near.

Considering last weeks overheated drama from the Prince Rupert officials through the Internet, it's hard to see how Port Edward representatives will be inclined to sit down for a discussion any time soon.

So it might seem a timely moment to release the reports and other comments through the city's website, allowing that residents to see what all this sudden call to man the barricades is all about.

That might give residents of the region an opportunity to see all of that documentation and determine whether:

It shows the City's calls of unfairness as correct

If it informs us that a deal is a deal and that the District is right to stick to its path of the moment.

Or,  If there's more to this story that we should know.

Rather that the loud, bellicose nature of the last week, a chance to step back and take a quiet review of the facts as delivered by the independent voices of the facilitators and mediator may help to better state and understand the situation as stands at this time.

For more items of note from the 2018 Municipal Campaign see our archive page here.

Further background on City Council discussion topics both strident and subtle can be found from our Council Discussion Archive page.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.


  1. again you wrong.. only reason this issue is public is because port ed guys said they now want watson $

    1. Uh no, the Watson Island thing appears about midway through the many, many, many posts from the Mayor's original material and the fact is, the City has been banging on this drum for months, if not a year or two ...

      It's public because the Mayor and Council have decided to adopt this strategy of building relationships with neighbouring communities.


  2. The Mayor's ongoing reference to tax revenue collected by Prince Rupert as "OUR money" and "OUR existing tax money" is misleading. Collecting taxes does not mean that it's the tax collector's money. It's money that is collected but must be paid in this case to Port Edward as required by the tax agreement that was a condition of the Province agreeing to expand Rupert's boundaries to include Ridley Island. Likewise school tax money collected by the City isn't "OUR money" either; it's money that the City must remit to the School District. Similarly, taxes collected in unincorporated areas by the Province isn't the Province's money. It's money that the Province must remit to the Regional District. The tax collector does not own the money that it collects on behalf of another public body.

    Perhaps the rhetoric will be set aside when the Mayor reveals what punitive measures the City will take to encourage Port Edward to make concessions. He has said that there will be dire consequences and that it won't be fun. The strategy seems to be to put Port Edward into a position of duress to force them to agree.

    The dire consequences approach does not necessarily work. Trump said that he couldn't kill us, but that he could devastate our economy if Canada didn't make trade concessions, but the outcome was a negotiated agreement, not the capitulation that he was evidently seeking.

    The approach that the Mayor is taking is rather surprising, considering that he entered public office proclaiming that he is a "facilitator" and proponent of win-win solutions. An alternative approach to saying that Port Edward must pay for services that it did not ask for, that it has no say in, and that anyone who enters City limits can access may be to offer for-fee services in areas where Port Edward is under-resourced, such as planning, housing inspections and perhaps some areas of public works. Doing so would be consistent with the Auditor General's report on Port Edward's challenges as a small municipality.

    It certainly will be interesting to see how this issue develops.

    1. For reference, the Report noted above can be reviewed at the link below: