Have you ever wondered how it's possible that Prince Rupert has a $600 million infrastructure deficit while the local port economy handles $60 billion per year in international trade?
In other words, a single industrial taxpayer in Kitimat is paying more than 5x the property taxes than DP World, Prince Rupert Grain, Trigon & Pinnacle Pellet, combined.
Rio Tinto Alcan in Kitimat is currently being charged a major industrial mill rate that is 36% more than the cap that Prince Rupert is forced to charge. As a result, Kitimat homeowners are being charged a mill rate that 87% less than in Prince Rupert, while business owners in Kitimat are being charged a mill rate that is 73% less than Prince Rupert.
The two propane facilities on Ridley Island and Watson Island are currently being charged a major industrial mill rate that is 129% more than the cap that Prince Rupert is forced to charge other port terminals. The only difference between them is the type of product that they ship. As a result, only two industrial taxpayers are paying $2.4 million more per year in taxes than the container port, coal, grain, and pellet export facilities, combined.
The container terminal has spent millions to expand their operation, growing trade volumes by 10x since 2010. Yet in that same time period, their property tax bill actually decreased by 17%. In other words, $154,152 of tax burden was shifted onto homeowners and small businesses.
Each year that the grain terminal paid less in taxes, the additional burden was forced onto homeowners and small businesses to the tune of nearly $400,000 per year!
The Pinnacle Pellet facility is paying 19% less in property taxes today than they were in 2017, while their exports are up 32% during the same time period.
Since '04, homeowners have collectively paid $119.6M in taxes, while capped port industries paid less than half: $53.7M.
Source: City of Prince Rupert Financials
Just last year alone, Rio Tinto in Kitimat contributed $19.8 million in taxes, compared to $4.8 million from homeowners.
Compare this to Prince Rupert where last year, all capped port industries combined paid $3.7 million in taxes, while homeowners paid $7.1 million.
Source: City of Prince Rupert Audited Financial Statements; Rio Tinto Alcan Taxes Paid 2021; District of Kitimat Audited Financial Statements
Mostly as a result of the growing local port-related economy, the assessed value of the average home in Prince Rupert has gone up 116% since 2013, from $180,000 to $389,000.
Yet during that same time period, despite massive increases in cargo volumes and hundreds of millions of dollars of government/private sector investment, the assessed value of capped port properties has declined.
Source: BC Assessment
Since '04, businesses have collectively paid $82.22M in taxes, while capped port industries paid $53.7M.
Source: City of Prince Rupert Financials
As a small business owner, you rightfully expect that if you invest in a new roof or exterior to your building, your assessed values and property taxes will increase. But for capped port properties, they are allowed to grow their business significantly while depreciating their assets.
In 2021, Rio Tinto in Kitimat contributed $19.8 million in taxes, compared to only $2.3 million from all local businesses combined.
Source: District of Kitimat Financials
Compare this to Prince Rupert where all capped port industries combined paid $3.7 million in taxes while businesses contributed $4.9 million.
As a Longshore worker, you get paid for a call out to a port terminal to get a ship tied up.
You use your hard-earned paycheques to buy a house. You come home from work one day to find your property taxes have gone up, again.
That's because the port terminal you worked at paid less property taxes than they did last year as a direct result of the Port Tax Cap. Now, you're forced to pay more.
To make matters worse, part of your paycheque was deducted for provincial income taxes, which pays for the $1.8 million grant the Province pays to the City for lost tax revenue.