At the last Nanaimo council meeting there was a presentation on parcel taxes just before the end of the meeting at 11pm. Many questions were raised about the current RDN parcel tax scheme. Everybody in the Regional District of Nanaimo is affected including Parksville, Qualicum, Lantzville and the 8 Electoral areas (A to H) and the City of Nanaimo.
What are parcel taxes? What is the problem with parcel taxes? What is the RDN parcel tax scheme? The delegate raised many important questions.
What are parcel taxes?
Every unit of land is considered a parcel, i.e. a house and yard. Parcel taxes are not user fees. As an example, the City of Merritt imposes a parcel tax for water and sewer as well as charging user fees.
What is the problem with parcel taxes?
Under a parcel tax, each plot of land in a jurisdiction is taxed the same, regardless of value or size of lot. There is no consideration given to the occupant’s property value or their ability to pay. It’s the same concept as a poll tax or head tax. Parcel taxes hit lower income people harder.
Why are municipalities turning to parcel taxes?
In the past, municipalities actually tried to get rid of, or at least to reduce the use of parcel taxes because they were deemed to be unfair. Unfortunately, recently, many cash strapped municipalities are searching for ways to pay their bills but they don’t want to appear like they are raising taxes.
These parcel taxes are not factored into the total amount of taxes paid until after the property tax calculations are done.
At the end of the day they still represent a tax increase to home owners.
Regional Parks and Trails Plan parcel tax
The RDN Parks and Trail parcel tax was introduced in 2005. The parcel tax first appeared on our tax notices in 2006.
From 2006 to 2015, Nanaimo taxpayers have contributed over $4 million to this fund so far. Where is the money going?
Increase in parcel tax $14 to $20
At the March 22nd RDN meeting, the board voted to increase the RDN parks and trails parcel tax to $20.
Nanaimo Councillors didn’t approve the same RDN parcel tax increase at the April 18th Nanaimo council meeting. It was tabled. Will it appear on the agenda for the next council meeting?
Why a parcel tax and a levy?
In addition to the RDN Parks & Trails Parcel tax, there is another levy on your tax notice that simply says Regional District Parks levy. Apparently this money is paid as based on an invoice from the RDN. From 2006 to 2015 Nanaimo taxpayers have contributed almost $3 million to that levy.
Hamilton Marsh, The Notch, Moorecroft
The RDN established a park at Moorecroft in Nanoose Bay in 2011. Will the RDN acquire Hamilton Marsh and The Notch in Nanoose Bay?
Where do the taxes raised for parks go? Are developers contributing to a park levy? Is the City of Nanaimo repealing Development Cost Charges for park contributions?
Parcel taxes happening across BC
Municipal Councils all across BC are introducing parcel taxes. Is this because there is less help from federal and provincial levels of government? What about the taxpayers? Will home ownership become a thing of the past? Will mega landlords owning huge tracts of land and houses become the new reality in BC? What will happen when there are only a handful of residential property owners? Times are changing. As Councillor Bestwick would say, “I won’t be around when it happens.”
The public’s reaction to the unfairness of Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax scheme led to the 1990 Poll Tax riots: