It looks like the regional district’s plan to tax sportsfishing lodges on the islands has hit a snag.
Administrator Janet Beil said the regional district – following provincial regulations – consulted with lodges, prepared a business plan and adopted a bylaw to impose the two percent accommodation tax.
The funds raised by the tax would go towards tourism marketing and economic development for rural Graham Island. Several other regional districts and municipalities in the province – including Vancouver, Victoria, Smithers, Terrace and Prince Rupert – have received provincial approval to levy the same tax.
However, Ms Beil said a bureaucrat at the Ministry of Provincial Revenue has now told her that the minister probably won’t approve the tax for Graham Island unless at least half the lodges support it. And that’s a problem, because when she consulted the lodges about it several months ago, not a single one liked the idea.
Despite that, every regional district director was in favour of the two percent tax when they approved the bylaw in December.
Ms Beil said none of the information from the provincial government said anything about the initiative needing the support of the majority of the lodges.
“It shouldn’t lie with the sportsfishing lodges,” she said. “Of course they’re not going to agree to anything like this.”
MLA Bill Belsey said he is aware of the regional district’s request to implement the additional tax, but hadn’t heard of any government decision which would require the support of the lodges. He added that Rick Thorpe, the Minister for Provincial Revenue, will be visiting Prince Rupert on Jan. 24 and could probably answer questions about the tax request at that time.
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