City council talks carbon tax

More clarity is needed on the carbon tax for municipalities, says the City of Red Deer.

More clarity is needed on the carbon tax for municipalities, says the City of Red Deer.

Council adopted an advocacy resolution asking the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) to advocate for a carbon tax position that would be revenue neutral for municipalities but accepts the environmental responsibilities on Tuesday.

City manager Craig Curtis said this is a proactive suggestion to AUMA.

If the carbon tax is applied directly to municipalities, the city’s bill could be roughly $2.8 million in 2017 and $4.2 million in 2018 based on the city’s current green house gas emissions per capita.

Curtis said the suggestion is for AUMA to develop an appropriate solution with the government.

“We need to get the message that we do not want to just be paying $3 to $5 million in tax,” he said.

The province has not released the complete details on the carbon tax. The provincial budget is expected to be released in April. More details are expected at that time.

AUMA will be preparing a position for the provincial government.

Mayor Tara Veer said the challenge is that municipalities do not have details on the carbon tax. She said the city is not exempt from the environmental responsibilities.

“We support and recognize our own environmental responsibilities and we want to continue on that track,” said Veer. “The challenge municipalities are faced with are the financial implications … This is isn’t just a financial discussion but Red Deer is accepting its environmental responsibilities.”

Coun. Tanya Handley said she would have preferred the province had a plan when it announced this tax to the public.

“But they didn’t,” she said. “Now we’re dealing with guessing. I support moving forward and pressing for some answers. This could potentially have a big impact on our municipality. I like that we are being proactive and ahead of it … and avoiding … double taxation.”

In other council news:

Council approved a series of enabling borrowing bylaws totalling $45.5 million for several projects including the 67th Street corridor improvements, recreation projects, a snow storage site, River Bend improvements, water trunks and other projects. The funding sources were approved in the 2016 capital and operating budgets.

A public hearing on the proposed Vanier Woods Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan amendment on March 14, after council gave first reading. The proposal is to rezone a 1.17 ha parcel to commercialfrom residential.

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