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Resort Communities making progress: O’Reilly



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The best part of utilizing the Class 3 assessment is that it would create certainty for communities. Having businesses jumping between the classes could cause up to a 15 per cent discrepancy in revenues he said.

"From the municipal perspective it’s one of certainty so that we can make at least some reasonable assessments of what our tax base is and how much we’re going to collect, so that we can budget properly," said O’Reilly.

The mayor said now the association has to gather support and appeal to the provincial government.

"We think it’s a fair proposal," said O’Reilly.

The association also talked about getting financial tools from the government at their last meeting.

"So much is being asked of communities to deliver and we think in particular resort communities are asked even more, and we need something extra to help us," said O’Reilly.

The mayor said it was encouraging to hear MP Paul Martin, the prime-minister-in-waiting, speak at the UBCM last week. Martin vowed to ensure municipal funding is more reliable by giving back a portion of the gasoline tax that the federal government collects.

Currently the federal government collects 10 cents per litre in excise tax on gasoline. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has requested five cents be turned over the municipalities but Martin said those details have yet to be worked out.

While that’s good news for a place like Vancouver, it’s not so financially appealing to a place like Whistler, with only two gas stations, said O’Reilly.

Whistler’s position has always been that each community should be able to determine their financial tools independently.

"Each community should be able to have some autonomy and I think the key message there is that there should be consultation within the community and agreement on how that comes," he said.

Whistler, which must provide infrastructure for a tourist population as well as a resident population, has been seeking new and innovative financial tools that would reduce dependence on property taxes and fees.

Among the things Whistler has eyed is getting some or all of the real estate transfer tax. Whistler has also studied how many American resorts have their own resort tax, which sees tourists contributing to municipal revenues.

Along with rallying for a Class 3 assessment, the association also agreed to help the provincial government understand the unique needs of resort communities.

In Premier Gordon Campbell’s 2003 Throne Speech he committed to establishing the B.C. Resort Task Force to work with resort communities and First Nations to ensure B.C.’s resort potential is fully established.