Monday, September 12, 2022

Prince Rupert Port Authority notes background of Port Tax Caps and revenues delivered to City of Prince Rupert as part of petition response

The launch of a community petition on Friday, which is aimed at the current provincial approach to taxation on Prince Rupert Port Authority property, has a  number of the recently confirmed candidates for Prince Rupert City Council beginning to engage in the discussion.

Their contributions through their various social media pages, answering the call of local populism that has been introduced, spurred on by the call of loyalty to the cause for those seeking elected office that made for the final lines of the introduction to the plan on Friday.

Towards the reception to that initiative, a recent social media message over the weekend from the Mayor observed that the petition quest had gained 200 signatures within twelve hours of its launch on Friday.

A review of the talking points above and the lengthy amount of material provided through the #ScraptheTax website, has squarely put the bullseye both on the current BC NDP government, as well as on some of the large industrial groups, some of them among largest of local employers which are currently operating as part of the PRPA footprint.  

The petition initiative is a project that clearly has come out of the recent State of the City presentation of outgoing Mayor Lee Brain and the ongoing work to the topic from Council member Blair Mirau who is also departing from civic office.

Their narratives of the last few months making for the focus for the Scrap the Tax planning and petition.

And so to gain some perspective on how the Prince Rupert Port Authority may view the latest salvo in the debate, we contacted the Port to hear their side of the latest community initiative.

In response to our query on the view from the Cow Bay offices of the Port, Katherine Voigt, Manager of Corporate Communications for the PRPA provided comments to the issue that tackled two themes.

The first segment providing some notes on the background to the BC Ports Property Tax and how it fits into the revenue and compensation structure for the Port.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA), port tenants and the City of Prince Rupert comply and work within the tax revenue structure and government compensation framework as set out by applicable federal and provincial laws.  The BC Ports Property Tax Act is one element of that. 

 The objective of BC's Ports Property Tax Act and its resulting cap is to provide a stable, predictable, and competitive tax environment to drive investment in terminals, and corresponding employment growth, economic opportunity, and new property tax sources. 

The capped tax rate is comparable to average and median industrial tax rates across BC. 

In addition to these tax revenues, compensation is provided to host communities by the provincial government based on assessments and tax rates that prevailed when the program was introduced, increased annually by inflation. 

The second and concluding portion of the response to our questions focused on themes more specific to the City of Prince Rupert and how the current arrangement has worked 

For context, in Prince Rupert, taxes remitted to the municipality from terminals subject to the tax cap were $3.6 million in 2021 and supplemented by a compensation grant of $1.8 million. This represents growth of 70% since the Act was introduced in 2004.

When considering all revenue from Port sources, municipal tax revenue has grown from $4.9 million per year in 2011 to $12.4 million in 2021—a 153% increase in the last 10 years, resulting in one of the strongest municipal industrial tax bases in BC. 

The City of Prince Rupert receives the vast majority of these revenues, and they made up 43% of the City’s net tax revenue in 2021. 

In Prince Rupert specifically, there’s been over $1 billion in private sector capital investment since the Port Property Tax Act came into place that has contributed to the growth of approximately 2,000 jobs locally associated with port operations today. 

PRPA acknowledges that the City of Prince Rupert is facing financial challenges related to addressing aging municipal infrastructure; however, the cause cannot be attributed to a shortfall of port-related tax revenues. -- Statement from the Prince Rupert Port Authority provided to the NCR  by Katherine Voigt, Manager Corporate Communications

The port has also offered up a link towards more information related to port-related property taxation in Prince Rupert and the four ways in which municipalities receive tax revenue from port properties.

Those notes from the PRPA can be explored here.

Since the BC Liberals also appear to be part of the chronicle and target for the community #ScraptheTax initiative, the local North Coast BC Liberal Association has tried to navigate some choppy waters on the issue, the group providing a short overview through some social media messaging on the weekend as to how they view the situation.

The North Coast Review made a few attempts to contact North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice for comment related to the petition launched on Friday. 

However to this point, we have not received a reply towards our enquiries to the topic, nor has the MLA addressed the topic through the range of her information options both by way of her website or through social media.

Should we gain a reply, we'll follow up on the MLA's commentary towards the  issue.

With its introduction on Friday, the petition initiative is now firmly established among the percolating Municipal election themes for the upcoming campaign. 

One element of the potential dominance of the topic on the campaign moving forward, may be to also deflect some of the attention away from the record of civic governance of the last eight years for the current council membership and those running for re-election in support of their work in that period.  

The record of the last four to eight years from those seeking office,  is something that voters and those following the campaign should strive to ensure retains prominence, serving as a key area of review that will direct the conversation as the campaign moves towards Election Day.

You can follow the the candidates Social media streams, to see how those running for the Mayoralty and Council for Prince Rupert may begin to speak to the topic as we move into the spring to the October 15 vote.

Those links and more notes on the campaign ahead can be reviewed through our election archive page here.


  1. I wonder what the petitioners think will happen. An MLA might agree to submit the petition to the legislature, which would then enter it in the record of proceedings. No one is required to do anything. The government is not going to be brought to its knees. It's difficult to envision the BC Liberals arguing for higher business taxes.

    The finance minister and her staff might wonder why the city didn't talk to them. Of course, who in their right mind would go to Victoria to allege that the city has a $600 million infrastructure deficit because of Port taxes rather than the city's decisions and priorities.

    This seems to be more about publicity, the appearance of doing something, even if it is ineffective. That is a good point about deflection; using the populist playbook of finding someone to demonize, in this case the Port and "wealthy multinational corporations", much like the tactic of blaming "gatekeepers" and "elites". This is all really quite pathetic, a low point in city politics.

  2. Actually... the local BC Liberals association agreed in multiple comments on Facebook that there is an issue here. You know it's bad when they actually are arguing corporate tax breaks are a problem. ...

    Also, whjo is claiming the port taxes are causing infrastructure problems? Its the opposite... if we had more taxes we could fix more problems.

    Side note: the definitions of populism is appealing to ordinary people and not the 'establishment' or 'elite', or in this case, wealthy multinational corporations. This is a textbook case of populism, but not in the bad way you seem to think it is. Tommy Douglas was a populist, and he is rememebered as one of the greatest Canadians ever

    1. The members of Prince Rupert City council may be many things (insert your own observations here) ... but in no way should they conflate their projects, ambitions and social media stylings for the public with the work of Tommy Douglas. NCR

  3. The mayor and council are starting to remind me of American Republicans. Pick a perceived or slight injustice and scream and scream. It is an attempt to shift blame from the ineffective, inefficient job they have done for the taxpayers of Prince Rupert.

    1. That's one analogy that comes to mind. Another is Poilievre's preoccupation with the "Laurentian elite" and the gatekeepers, whoever they are.

  4. Whatever response the local BC Liberals get from their party will be interesting. As for the petition it's basically political theatre which is something the outgoing mayor is very good at.

  5. BC Liberals North CoastSeptember 13, 2022 at 6:21 PM

    To clarify, the North Coast BC Liberals support continuing dialogue to find a fair and equitable solution that satisfies all parties involved. That includes re-evaluating and discussing the Ports Property Tax Act, Payments in Lieu of Taxes, as well as tax incentives that continue to encourage jobs, port growth, increased revenue and development in North Coast.

    We have a lot to be grateful for as a community in how successive City Councils, the PRPA, and industry have worked together to help start rebuilding the City of Prince Rupert and to bring the community back from the brink of bankruptcy. Of course, more work is needed but we want to be clear that we are advocates for both the City of Prince Rupert and the PRPA. At the end of the day, we're all community members of North Coast and have the best interests of the community at heart. We encourage all parties involved to work together to find solutions to the issues we face.

    1. Prince Rupert appears to have benefited the most between 2004-2008, when compared to other port municipalities.

      The BC Marine Terminal Operators Association, stand to lose a lot if changes are made to the PPTA.

      Lots of layers, which is why it has taken time.

      I for one am disappointed and embarrassed to see our local politicians representing our city in this manner.