The Lil’wat Nation is going to implement a system of independent taxation starting in 2013, though it won’t be reserve residents who will be paying up.
The Mount Currie Band was granted the required provincial taxation certificate in late July, applicable to all reserve lands held by the Pemberton Valley community.
“We are not ‘self-taxing’ in terms of taxing our own community members, but will begin collecting taxes from leases, utilities and encumbrances on Reserve land that are currently being collected by other jurisdictions,” said Kerry Mehaffey, Mount Currie’s director of economic development, in an email. “Of all the communities who have implemented taxation bylaws, I am not aware of any that have imposed taxation on their own members.”
Mehaffey said the band does not have a significant number of taxable interests on its land, but he noted “several” benefits to the Lil’wat becoming a taxing nation.
“The main advantages are that it will increase revenues, assert jurisdiction, as well as help support an appropriate business framework going into the future,” he said.
Both Pemberton council and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board received a notice of Mount Currie’s intent to begin taxing in their regular meetings this week.
Correspondence from the band requested both jurisdictions review whether their service arrangements would be impacted by the move. The SLRD board directed staff to produce a report on potential implications, Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said Tuesday (Sept. 18).
Sturdy called taxation “a good legislative step” for the Lil’wat Nation. He didn’t feel there would be any impact on the village, but that the municipality would review the regional district report when available.
Mehaffey agreed, saying it was “unlikely” that Pemberton or the SLRD would be affected by the band moving to a taxation system.
Tax rates will start at a comparable level to neighbouring communities and the band will be limited in its control over them, said Mehaffey.
“This protects ratepayers,” he said.
Gates Lake discussion delayed
Area C director and board chair Susie Gimse was absent from the board meeting Monday (Sept. 17) and Friday’s (Sept. 14) Pemberton Valley Utilities and Services Committee (PVUS) gathering, as it was believed she was attending to a personal matter.
As a result, the PVUS meeting was cancelled, so expected discussions about the future of the Gates Lake recreation facility in Birken did not take place. However, Sturdy found two motions Gimse made at the Sept. 10 Electoral Area Directors Committee meetings to be encouraging steps towards resolving ongoing issues with the Pemberton-Area C joint recreation service.
At that meeting, $15,000 of Area C Select funds were allocated to bring in a consultant that would review the service “and provide options for bylaw amendments,” according to minutes.
“I thought that was a very positive move,” Sturdy said Tuesday when briefing his council on the matter.
A further $5,000 was earmarked for a community space and recreation needs study for the Birken-D’Arcy area. Sturdy said he thought that investigation was also “something that needs to happen” and that he’s hopeful to hear more from Gimse at the next PVUS meeting, scheduled for Oct. 9.
Compost site moves forward
A composting facility proposed for south of Pemberton in the Rutherford Creek area took another step forward Monday when the SLRD board supported moving ahead with the permit application process.
Sea to Sky Soils submitted an application to the SLRD last month for a facility to be considered under the district’s Solid Waste Management Plan, said a report to the board. The company has garnered support from community members and businesses, the Village of Pemberton and has a lease agreement in place with the Lil’wat Nation on the land, said the report.
“Upon full operation, the facility will accept yard waste, food waste, wood waste agricultural waste another organic material,” said the report, noting the site’s maximum annual capacity would be less than one-quarter of that at Whistler’s compost facility.
The board’s support means the project details will be forwarded to the province for further review prior to any operational certificate being issued.