Monday, June 19, 2023

PILT, Port financials and partnerships all make for themes from Q and A period of PRPA Annual Public Meeting

A topic that generated much discussion this past fall, most of it fuelled by a petition drive during the 2022 municipal election campaign, became part of the narrative of the Port's Annual Public Meeting presentation on Thursday. 

That coming as part of the look at Port financials, PILT payments and property valuations.  

The topic one which got a short mention in the Financial review from Vice President of Finance, Agnes Piotrowski, with a finical statement item noting of the reduction in PILT of the 58.0% reduction for 2022, but  the VP not speaking to the topic in detail during the financial portion of the presentation on the night.

The larger explanation and commentary to the topic from the Port's view came later in the one hour APM, that from Vice President of Communications and Sustainability Ken Veldman, who responded to a question emailed to the Port during the public engagement period prior to the APM.

"So obviously this has been a conversation of some note within the community over the past year and so I think our response to this is probably not surprising.  But I'll do it in a wholesome manner.

First and foremost, obviously we've seen a lot of growth over the last decade and largely that has been measured in terms of jobs and economic opportunity and what that's brought on that front and throughout this entire conversation, I don't think that has ever been in question which I think has been been great.

The second element is to note that PRPA, all of its tenants, all of the businesses within the Gateway do pay taxes and there is very clear Legislation that determines how those payments are made, but each and every single one pays property taxes.

Now that being said, as we've grown and you've seen those other economic benefits, there has also been a growth of tax base here. Ten years ago when you take that collective of I'll call it, Port businesses on PRPA property. That measured about five million dollars, last year that measured about 12 million dollars.

So we've seen significant growth on that tax base over the last ten years, and, it's almost two and half times ... 

And the vast majority of that goes to the City of Prince Rupert, and about a million plus goes to Port Edward as well; but most of that goes to the City of Prince Rupert and it makes up about 40 precent of their annual revenues on a net tax revenue perspective.

And that's significant, based on you know comparable municipalities that's a very large tax base so that does continue to flow and as we continue to grow that will continue to grow.

Now a couple of pieces within that. 

Number one what has driven that conversation is very much an understanding that the city's infrastructure, in particular water infrastructure is in a really critically urgent stage of renewal and I don't think anybody doubts that.

And what I really want to emphasize is that we have always been willing to be shoulder to shoulder with the City in terms of addressing that issue, and I actually see the mayor at the back.  

And quite frankly I think that we've been very effective over the last few months working together as partners, with senior government, on the path to securing infrastructure funds at a level that is actually needed to address this issue.

We're not there yet, I feel like we're making very good progress, the announcement from the province a few months ago of 65 million dollars towards this, is a remarkable reflection of what that partnership has achieved and we've got more work to do and we'll continue to do that.

So while we will have disagreements on things like the province's tax cap and the value of that, more recently the Port appealed the valuation of its vacant lands.  Which was a successful appeal where the BC Appeal board recognized that some previous assessments on our vacant land were erroneous and the methodology was flawed, and reset those assessments based on that finding.

That has an impact on city revenue we recognize that, but that is also you know a basic aspect of property taxation where properties need to be assessed according to that recognized methodology.

So while we will have challenges at times, especially on the financial side with the city there is an underlying natural partnership that is there, we have many more things in common than we have apart.

And when we have achieved great things in this community is when those partnerships have been effective and that's a very good example of that"

The video portion of that commentary can be reviewed from the Prince Rupert Port Authority APM video presentation, starting at around the one hour mark. 

As was noted in the overview from the Port's VP of Communication and Sustainability, Mayor Herb Pond was in the audience on the evening. 

Though so far Mayor Pond  has not used his social media stream to share any notes or a civic response  towards the Port's view of the financial differences of the last few years.

Also not heard from yet, the proponents of the Petition campaign, who have not as of yet offered up their thoughts on the Port's presentation of Thursday. 

Some past background on that petition quest can be reviewed here.

As for the petition, it was presented to the Legislature by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice in the Spring session, however what comes from that has yet to be be outlined.

Ms. Rice has also not yet offered any comments on the Port's Annual Public Meeting and the financial themes reviewed from it.

More notes on the Port's Annual gathering can be reviewed from our main article here.

City Discussion topics can be examined here, while our Legislature archive page can be found here.


  1. Hey PILT guy. What Veldman said makes sense. I am waiting for you to scream at the windmills anyway.

    The peanut gallery.

    1. What Veldman said is widely misleading. He tries for PRPA to take credit for the non-capped industrial tax base created by Altagas on Ridley (a sublease led by RTI) and Pembina on Watson (led by the City).

      Plus, he conveniently left out the fact that he was the one advocating to the Province to expand the tax cap to include those same propane facilities….

      Although it does make sense why he wouldn’t mention those things.

    2. I've read the passage in the article above from the Q and A a few times now ... nowhere do I see the words Altagas, Ridley or Pembina in the comments in the section from the Port VP related to the Question that was asked.

      His main overview appears to have been limited to Port taxation, Provincial legislation, BC assessment appeals and municipal infrastructure needs and the volume of revenue from the port taxation that is directed to the City.

      So I would imagine you are referencing items somewhere else in the presentation, or other areas outside of the Thursday session and your interpretation of that as 'misleading' is thus your opinion, but not necessarily factual in this instance.

      As well, if you have a public citation for the second half of the contribution to the discussion you have made, that on elements of advocacy to the province on propane facilities, that would be helpful to provide towards your notes, in the spirit of veracity.

      Otherwise it's really just your version of something that may or may not have taken place.

      Should be noted, it was a public meeting so you could have raised those concerns on Thursday evening ... but seemingly did not as part of the final portion of the presentation available for such.


    3. Dam windmills !

    4. Old talking points from the time of the last council either need to be supported by facts or discounted.

      When Mr Veldman talks about $12 million in taxes paid to the City, compared to $5 million ten years ago, he is referring to taxes paid by "Port businesses on PRPA property". He's not trying to include Pembina's Watson Island taxes. As for trying to "take credit" for taxes paid by non-capped businesses (Altagas), there's no reason for not counting those taxes. Lands do not stop being PRPA property just because they're sub-leased, and the taxes are part of the total paid by Port businesses.

    5. No, you’re wrong. 5min on your Google machine is all it takes. Last year: $6.4 mil paid by uncapped major industry, $3.6 mil by capped port industry. So unless he’s taking credit for the majority of small business taxes of $5.1 million, something definitely doesn’t add up.

      Source: 2022-2026 5yearfinancial plan

    6. Oh NCR, by continuing to ignore a trove of publicly accessible information that contradicts your worldview, you continue to enhance your unblemished record for carrying significant water for the port.

      We all do appreciate your play by play coverage though.

    7. Perhaps you could deliver all of your 'treasure trove' of publicly accessible information ... Better yet, perhaps you should have cited it at Thursdays public session? NCR

    8. As well, and apropos of nothing. So far, other than my 'play by play coverage as you say' you'd be hard pressed to learn that the APM actually took place, Such has been the 'local coverage of port or civic issues for that matter'. But sure, you be you as you will ... NCR

    9. "No, you’re wrong." Correction: Mr Veldman said that most of the $12 million in taxes went to the City, not all. Port Edward also gets tax revenue from the Port businesses. There's also the $1.8 million grant from the Province for the capped properties, which would take the total to the City closer to $13 million.

    10. Umm no. His exact quote was “ when you take that collective of Port businesses on PRPA property…. last year that measured about 12 million dollars.”

      If he or you are including the provincial grant, that is outright deception because it is taxpayer funded.

    11. Read on ... "And the vast majority of that goes to the City of Prince Rupert, and about a million plus goes to Port Edward as well; but most of that goes to the City of Prince Rupert ...."

      He didn't say all of the $12 million goes to the City, "most of that". According to the 2022-26 financial plan cited above it's about $10 million to the City, which is about double what it was ten years ago.

      I don't know why the $1.8 million Provincial grant is viewed dismissively. The City is not going to send it back. .

    12. Grant is not being viewed dismissively. What everyone should dismiss is the PRPA’s false claim that they are somehow contributing to it when it’s BC taxpayers on the hook, not them.

  2. We're just starting to file into the peanut gallery, more will be arriving soon, looking forward to the usual tirade about subsidies etc.

    1. Hi peanut gallery, local taxpayers here.

      your sad attempt at a joke is at your own expense. It reveals you to be more interested in defending the PRPA’s 58% drop in PILT over the best interests of your own community.

    2. Actually what's really sad is that when PRPA appealed the assessments for vacant lands the City could have made representations to BC Assessment, but it didn't. Why was that?

      Did the City know that the properties had been over-valued for years, that the PILTs were higher than they should have been, and that eventually the other shoe would drop? Or perhaps the City did not have any facts to present and it was a case of snooze you lose.

      It's very convenient and simplistic to blame PRPA as the appellant, but the question remains. Why didn't the City do anything when the valuations were sent to the Appeal Board for a determination? Why was no action taken?

    3. Didn’t the City just finishing raising our taxes to budget like $100k for lawyers to dispute it??

      Also, why are you just mindlessly adopting the talking point that the lands were overvalued? A 58% year over year drop when all homeowners are facing a double digit increase is quite suspect and warrants further scrutiny

    4. My comments are not 'mindless'. Saying that the lands were overvalued is not a 'talking point'. That was the determination of the Property Assessment Appeal Board when it ordered a reduction in the valuations.

      Many of the valuations did not change, or not very much, but Appeal 2021-25-00035 resulted in the Board ordering a change to the valuation of Roll number 25-52-227-W000605.000, from $116,315,000 to $8,725,000. That's the source of most of the decrease in the PILT. As for increases in the residential valuations, they're irrelevant. Every property valuation is considered on its own merits.

      Overcoming the Appeal Board decision is going to be a challenge and I honestly do not know whether it's worth the $100K that the City council recently budgeted. Just because a legal decision is unfavourable does not make it wrong or justify the cost of an appeal.

    5. Thanks for exposing how messed up the system is.

      Only $8.7 million for hundreds of acres of industrial land with rail, road, and ocean access?! Does anyone really believe that’s fair market value?

      If you don’t think it’s worth the 100k to fight such insanity, then you seem to be comfortable affording the double digit tax increase thanks to your variable compensation

    6. I said that I don't know if it's worth the $100K. I do know that valuations approved by the Property Assessment Appeal Board are very difficult to overcome. I don't receive any "variable compensation".

    7. Oh right sorry, bonus, not variable compensation.

      And you failed to answer the previous question.

    8. You make too many assumptions.