September 30, 2015 - 2:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - Plans to include the New Afton mine within Kamloops city limits are still in the discussion phase but the city is also looking at other options.
Mayor Peter Milobar met recently with Minister of Mines Bill Bennett and Minister of Community Peter Fassbender at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.
“He’s committed to coming up to looking on the ground to see what we’re talking about in terms of physical connectivity to the city,” Milobar says of Fassbender, adding they have looked at other options outside of annexation. “We presented other revenue type share agreements that either the province has, or there’s a new one in Ontario or two or three different models as well that might not need a boundary expansion."
The good news is that everyone is still talking although he says nothing was decided during the municipalities’ convention.
“That’s really where we’re at with it right now, just trying to figure out what the best way forward is with the province and the mining company and area first nations.”
Heavy industry players — Arclin, Domtar, Lafarge and Tolko — have been asking council for a tax break to help make their operations more competitive. They complained Kamloops’ tax rate is nearly double what than other parts of the province. Arclin closed down earlier this year.
The city is looking at adding New Afton to the city’s heavy industry tax rate to help spread the tax burden.
The idea of boundary extension was first raised by Milobar in 2013. Including New Afton within Kamloops city limits would mean the city could collect property taxes from the business.
The Tk'emlups and Skeetchestn Indian Bands are opposed to the boundary expansion as it encroaches on traditional territory. In 2014 the bands said they were prepared to take legal action if necessary.
“We feel we’re ready to file paperwork tomorrow if we need to but the province said they’d like us to do a bit more work and discussion and we still have some discussion we’d like to have with the SSN (Tk'emlups and Skeetchestn Indian Bands) as well. Anytime you have a boundary expansion, especially in today’s legal environment with first nations consultations and accommodation and things like that, it can be a process,” Milobar says.
The province has told the city that more needs to be done. Milobar says he cannot give a timeline as when the boundary extension happen or agreements would be in place.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015