Quesnel City Council is moving to make the city less reliant on industry when it comes to taxation.

Mayor Bob Simpson says it’s something that simply has to be done…

“If you lose a couple of mills and you are that heavily dependent on your industrial taxation then you have no choice where you’re going to have to go in and gut your services and programs, or you’re going to have to transfer the tax onto the residents in very short order.”

Council voted last night to do some tax shifting and this time the plan is to move light industry down to the commercial rate, but it will be done over three years which lowers the impact on residential and commercial ratepayers to 3 and 11 dollars respectively for every 100 thousand dollars of assessment.

Only Councillor Mitch Vik was opposed.

He felt that commercial rates, like major industry, should have been frozen…

“The commercial tax rates have definitely crept up to an area where I feel it’s going to effect our competitiveness as we move forward. Where i really struggle with that is in a community where we may depend on commercial to bear some of the economic burden as we transition our community. If we make mistakes now in terms of the taxation we may thwart growth in that commercial development.”

Vik proposed a one percent shift in each of the next four years with only residential taxpayers paying for the shift.

That would have amounted to an additional $10.49 per 100 thousand of assessed value in the first year.

Most on Council however, including Councillor Ron Paull, felt that the light industry rates were on the high end…

‘I don’t feel that we’ve really paid a lot of attention in recent years to light industrial, and for me there is not a whole lot of difference between light industrial and commercial, so therefore I would be in favour of aligning light industry with commercial. In fact, i would maybe go another half a percent in that direction because I really think that for future investment that the future is in light industrial, value-added manufacturing, that type of thing. I don’t think that we’re going to see any more major industrial enterprises come to the city.”

Others, such as Councillor Martin Runge, felt that commercial taxpayers were already being supported in the budget…

“I feel the commercial has already been supported in a lot of what we do with regards to our RCMP and bylaw improvements. I believe the beneficiaries of better bylaw are the commercial businesses predominantly so I feel we have already supported the businesses because I do want to support them, but I just see more of an emphasis on keeping our major industry and our light industry going.”

In the past Council has focused on major industry when it comes to tax shifting.