2,000 Peace Region businesses oppose carbon tax hike, coalition claims

Carbon tax hike mulled as means of meeting emissions goals

Claiming support from 2,000 businesses in Northeast B.C., a coalition of local governments and business groups is firing back at calls to raise B.C.’s carbon tax from its rate of $30 per tonne.

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After 130 businesses from across the province signed onto an open letter asking Premier Christy Clark to raise the carbon tax, the Northeast BC Resource Municipalities Coalition is arguing the rate should stay where it is—while claiming more than 15 times the support.
 
“It’s really about making sure that our economy is remaining competitive,” Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman told the Alaska Highway News.
 
The province is currently reviewing its Climate Leadership Plan, which will lay the groundwork to help the province meet its 2050 emissions reduction targets. 
 
One of the Climate Leadership Team’s recommendations to government is to raise the tax by $10 per year, starting in 2018 and continuing each year until 2050. Increases in the carbon tax are offset with decreases in other provincial taxes, which the government claims makes the tax revenue neutral. 
 
The coalition, which includes the City of Fort St. John, the District of Taylor, the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, the Northern BC Truckers Association, Energy Services BC, and the Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, and Dawson Creek chambers of commerce, has filed a formal submission urging the BC government to maintain the tax freeze. The chambers of commerce claimed their entire memberships in arriving at the 2,000 businesses figure. 
 
As a resource-rich area, the Peace Region would be greatly affected by a carbon tax hike, Ackerman said, adding the ramifications of an increase would have far reaching consequences. 
 
“This would impact any resource industry, and when I say any resource industry, I am talking about farming, forestry, or mining, oil and gas, any resource industry, because they are reliant on machinery to extract and produce their commodity,” she said.
 
“It’s not just Northeast B.C., it’s those of us who live outside of the urban areas that are working each and every day to get commodities to market, to bring new dollars into our jurisdiction.”
 
The group says it recognizes the province’s role in the fight against climate change, but says B.C.’s natural resources – particularly natural gas – are part of the solution.
 
“We believe the province would only consider an increase in the carbon tax under a regime where emission-intensive, trade-exposed industries are fully protected from any carbon tax increase,” Taylor mayor Rob Fraser said in a written statement, referring to industries like natural gas that can be driven to lower-cost jurisdictions in the event of tax increases. 
 
The call to the province comes after MLA for Peace River North Pat Pimm launched a Change.org petition on Fri., April 1, urging the premier to leave the tax rate as it currently sits. As of April 7, his petition had 1,069 signatures.
 
peacereporter@ahnfsj.ca
© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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