Red Deer County mayor joins protest against energy industry tax break plan

Rural municipalities fear tax break proposal will unfairly shift taxes on to ratepayers

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood participated in his first protest on Thursday.

The Delburne-area farmer joined about three dozen other rural municipal representatives in front of the legislature to protest government tax breaks for the energy industry.

Rural municipalities are concerned that provincial proposals to help the struggling oil and gas sector will shift the tax burden on to their ratepayers.

The issue was important enough that Wood and county manager Curtis Herzberg travelled to Edmonton to send the province a message that cutting taxes for the energy industry should not be done at the expense of rural municipalities.

“This shows how serious this matter is,” said Wood.

“I’ve never protested anything before, especially from the county side.

“For this to be happening today, shows the province does not have the ear of rural municipalities at this particular time, or we would never have got to this point.

“The one important thing about government is to have good consultation, and that’s what I believe was totally lacking here.

“I think the goal today is to have the province recognize this is a very serious issue and not to proceed until we’ve actually had a better conversation and maybe come up with a better plan,” said Wood.

The mayor said protesting was not his first choice.

“This isn’t my preferred way of doing this. I would much rather have sat down with the MLAs, the cabinet ministers and whoever else and had some discussions on this.”

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