Monday, July 18, 2022

Prince Rupert Port Authority gently pushes back a bit on Mayor's financial narrative from State of the City Presentation

The Mayor's State of the City Presentation has proven to
be a talking point weeks after the June 28th event

It hasn't been as prominently on display as what has become a Two Part Celebration in the weekly paper of Mayor Lee Brain's State of the City Presentation of June 28th.

But tucked away in the bottom of the Letters to the Editor page from July14th, is a response to some of the Mayor's fiscal themes, with the Prince Rupert Port Authority taking up some challenge to a few of Mr. Brain's more outspoken themes of the city's fiscal woes.

A key theme for Mayor Lee Brain's
State of the City was focused on the Provincial Port Tax
and how it impacts on the city, a topic of interest that the Port has
provided some counter narratives towards

The letter to the paper which was authored by Ken Veldman, the Port's VP of Public Affairs and Sustainability is titled "Port Property Tax not why community is stuck" and in his review of the mayor's talking points Mr. Veldman speaks to the dramatic headline in the paper and how the Mayor's presentation may not tell the whole story.

The title to the Port correspondence refers to the Mayor's observations on the city's financials which he suggests have been hindered by the province and the Port Property Tax Act , the quote from the Mayor on the night that perhaps most caught the attention of Port officials was:

"They haven't moved on that, there's some reasons I probably shouldn't say it publicly, but this challenge the Port Property Tax Act is the number one reason why this community is stuck, we are stuck, we are not allowed to be free.

Our one legislative right is taxation, that's the only mechanism we are allowed to have under the Local Government Act and the Community charter is to collect money through taxation ..."

The political commentary from the mayor formed a narrative that  channels a vision of a city council yearning to be free; the community seemingly held back by the limitations the Mayor finds in the Tax Act.

We contacted the PRPA, to look over the full correspondence towards  the city's view of the Act, and from the document forwarded to us, the same which was printed in the weekly paper, Mr. Veldman offered up a few themes for consideration.

"While appreciating the City of Prince Rupert’s aging infrastructure represents a significant financial challenge for the municipality, the port industry is not the cause of this challenge. In the past 15 years, the City’s total tax revenue from port industries has more than tripled to over $12 million and made up more than 45% of the City’s net tax revenue in 2021. 

The City of Prince Rupert has one of the strongest industrial tax bases in BC, ranking #9 (out of 112 BC municipalities with greater than 2,000 people) when comparing percentage of total property taxes contributed by major industry. New port projects on the near horizon will bring even more millions into the City tax roll."

The correspondence in reply to the theme of the State of the City Presentation also provides a bit of history towards the Port Property Tax Act and includes some data of note towards what that program has delivered to the region through port infrastructure.

"In Prince Rupert, this legislation has played a role in realizing more than $1 billion of terminal-specific investment in Prince Rupert since its implementation. 

This investment has resulted in the positive impact of almost tripling local port-related property tax revenues during that time, despite the limit on tax rates. 

With almost $2 billion of capital investment currently under consideration in Prince Rupert, competitiveness for international investment continues to be critical to Prince Rupert's economic future."

Towards a conclusion, the the Vice President of Public Affairs and Sustainability notes that those at the port like those who work at the partner facilities live here as well and they too have concerns over the city's challenges.

"Rebuilding the City’s infrastructure is a major concern for all of us who live here, but it’s important to focus on the facts, and to focus efforts on collectively solving the challenges that lead to solutions. Industrial tax revenue is not one of those challenges."

And as we noted in early July, the Port does appear to have offered up at least one potential solution towards some of those challenges, with a Request for Interest towards plans for an Emergency Responders facility that if all comes together could be built behind the Lester Centre.

Something that seems to offer up a blue print for future cooperation between the City and Port.

Though to date, the city has not made mention of the Port's proposed facility and how it could be of benefit to both the Prince Rupert Port Authority and the City of Prince Rupert.

You can compare some of the themes related to the discussion through some of our archive notes below:

The Mayor's overview of the financial picture and other themes from the State of the City Presentation can be reviewed here.

While some of the financial notes of concern to the mayor and other port investment themes were noted as part of the the Port's Annual Public Meeting back in June.

For those that may have missed the correspondence and already taken care of the recycling for the week, the full letter to the editor, yet to be posted as part of their online portal, is available through the July 14th edition of the weekly paper's online e edition.


  1. It's good to read an alternative to the city's it's all their fault and we should have the freedom to do what we want narratives. The community has benefited enormously from port-related investments, including by the federal and provincial governments, and there are trade-offs. Sometimes the city comes across as rather naive and parochial when there are issues of national and provincial policy involved.

  2. Blair Mirau’s comments in the northern view today tell a different story. Nice to read facts presented

    1. Well everyone is entitled to their version of the facts, perhaps a public debate would be fun! At any rate, Mr. Mirau may want to repost that commentary to his social media feed ... not to sure many will be finding his political manifesto hidden away as it is at the moment NCR