Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Prince Rupert Council moves forward with plans to create Tax Exemption for logistics land use in the city

Following their blue print of a year ago when they looked to encourage development in the downtown core, Prince Rupert City Council has moved forward a plan to introduce a Tax Exemption program for industrial land use, as long as the focus is on logistics in support of Port of Prince Rupert activities.

The City's Financial Officer Corinne Bomben provided the background to the topic on Monday night, reviewing some of the elements for Council of her report that was distributed as part of the Agenda for the night. With the CFO noting how the exemption would be a mechanism to encourage growth in the Logistics sector.  

"This bylaw has been created to stimulate the growth of trade related logistics industries on land that can be used in support of such growth, as a mechanism to encourage development for these purposes. Trade logistics has become a significant growth area supporting the import-export terminals in Prince Rupert. There are not many areas of lands available for these purposes and a mechanism to promote the development of land for this purpose is through a revitalization program. --CFO Corinne Bomben

Ms. Bomben noted that there is no cost to the city for the initiative, other than the opportunity costs foregone on the term of the exemption.

The proposed exemption includes:  a five-year exemption of all non-market tax increases as a result of new developments meeting the program objectives; and one quarter of the non-market tax increase added each year over four years the effect of which will mean that taxes will be levied in full in year ten.

In follow up discussion, Councillor Mirau noted of his support for the proposal and how it supports the Ports Land Use plan and the city's own Official Community Plan. 

"This bylaw is I think a good example of how the City can continue to support port related growth without a cash outlay and so obviously its consistent with the Port's long term land use plan and I think it's also consistent with our new OCP because I think it's in our collective best interests to cluster industrial development away from residential areas" -- Councillor Blair Mirau

He also asked as to whether a copy of the map noted in the Agenda was available for viewing, observing that it was missing from the document.  Towards the map, the Mayor suggested that once accessed that the map be forwarded to the digital devices of the Council membership.  

However Councillor Adey noted that as the meeting was a public session, the map, if possible should be presented on the large screen in the Council chamber.

"Since this is a public meeting, I'm wondering if it should be projected for the public as well"

The City of Prince Rupert is looking to exempt a parcel of land along the Ridley
Island Access Road   from Taxes for a period of five years as part of a Development plan

Once up on the screen, Ms. Bomben noted that the land in question along the Highway (later noted as the Ridley Island Access Road) was the only land of note available for such use as a logistics terminal.

In further discussion, Councillor Mirau asked as to how much of the land would be used for development, with Ms. Bomben noting only a portion of the land was available for such use.

"It's only for a section that's actually kind of developable, that anyone would be able to develop on, the lower section is not anything that can be developed on" -- CFO Bomben

Councillor Cunningham asked if there were any other properties available and he was advised this was the only one to be considered at this time. In follow up, the Mayor noted that the City could extend the tax exemption to other lands at any time.

Councillor Mirau followed up with a question on the status of land and if it would qualify under the Port Property Tax act as and eligible property, he was advised by the CFO that it would not part of that act.

Councillor Cunningham further explored what the use would be for the land, with Ms. Bomben noting that any use would have to follow the purposes of the program, with any applicant required to apply to the city and fit the guidelines.

With no further discussion Council provided First, Second and Third Reading to the Bylaw, It will return for final approval at a future Council session.   

As we outlined on Monday, there are a number of logistics park proposals currently under consideration outside the scope of the City's land boundaries. 

The City also has made note of the potential use of the Watson Island Logistics Park for such use, though no one spoke to that civic property on Monday evening.

The full provisions of the Property Tax Exemption plan can be explored from Monday's Agenda Package starting on page 61.  At the Monday session, Ms. Bomben noted that the Map would be included as part of that package, though as of the publishing time for this post the map has not been added to the information package.

The full conversation on the topic can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive, starting at the three minute mark. 

More items of note from Monday's Council Session can be explored from our archive page.

Items of interest on Major projects and development can be reviewed from our archive here.

A wider overview of past Council discussion themes is available here.



  1. So the city just raised my fees for the civic center, garbage and dump fees now reduce taxes on property. Why not reduce my taxes also.

  2. So City Hall wants to incentivize someone to build a cargo storage or loading facility by throwing them a multi year tax exemption.

    This facility would likely be classed in the major industry tax bracket. Currently rated at $57 per $1000 in taxable value.



    Isn't Watson Island already servicing this need and has land to expand on, pretty sure the lagoon was infilled to accommodate empty containers.
    PRPA and Terrace are marketing similar facilities and are further along in development.
    Lastly, once the new port perimeter road is open, services will be needed at that intersection. Not another container depot or transload facility.

    The city should support port growth by encouraging service development of another kind on that property.

  3. It is tax dallors that keep up the infastructure and roads in Prince Rupert. No taxes if they give exemptions. We'll just leave the roads to deteriorate.

    1. You can't fault city administration for trying to replicate this mechanism.

      But I do not see this exemption strategy panning out for this particular property. It is not enough to entice an investor. Especially considering the amount of capital they will have to invest in the property, plus the guidelines the city will likely hold them to.

      Current commercial users of the program downtown, appear to be in the non - profit tax bracket, which is in the lowest tax municipal tax bracket. The exemption mechanism has a greater impact on their operations.

      Perhaps the city should look at a franchise strategy to support growing service wants and needs from residents.

      Or increase property inspection rates on vacant boarded up residential/commercial properties to maintain current service levels for residents or offset user fee increases.

      Tax exemption strategies on empty lots, won't make people scream "Make Prince Rupert Home"