Kamloops director seeks provincial intervention for hospital taxes from Tk'emlups | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops director seeks provincial intervention for hospital taxes from Tk'emlups

Royal Inland Hospital.

Sun Rivers residents do not pay taxes toward the regional hospital district, but a director at the Thompson Nicola Regional District is aiming to change that.

Ken Christian, who is the chair of the Thompson Regional Hospital District and the mayor of Kamloops, is seeking provincial intervention after attempts to negotiate hospital tax input from non-band members living in Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc failed.

Despite a refusal to contribute to the regional hospital fund from Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc, Christian and regional district board chair Ken Gillis have brought the matter to the B.C. finance ministry.

In a letter, Minister of Finance Selina Robinson told Christian that First Nations have the authority to levy property taxes and to determine where those taxes are used, as granted by federal authority.

READ MORE: Tk'emlups says no to funding hospital district through non-member property taxes

"In the spirit of reconciliation, I encourage you to advance a positive dialogue with the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc on this issue," the letter reads.

Within the regional hospital district, $172 million of tax funding will contribute to the new patient care tower at Royal Inland Hospital, and the total bill for that project is expected to be $417 million. The regional hospital district generally pays 40% of capital project funding.

Christian did not indicate if the regional district is continuing to discuss the matter with Tk'emlúps, or Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir, but in an email, he said he would continue to pursue the tax funding through provincial intervention.

"We will follow up with Minster Robinson to reduce our contributions by an equivalent amount to what we would have expected to collect from Sun Rivers as we enter Phase 3 of the RIH Redevelopment," Christian said in an email to iNFOnews.ca. "I have every confidence that Minister Robinson will make the taxpayers of the Thompson Regional Hospital District whole."

Phase three of Royal Inland Hospital improvements is expected to include a new parkade.

In December 2020, Christian penned a letter to Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc leadership requesting that non-Band members living on-reserve pay a portion of property taxes toward the Thompson Regional Hospital District, which is part of the Thompson Nicola Regional District that oversees funding for hospital-related capital projects.

In response, Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir said Tk'emlúps was not in a position to contribute to the hospital tax, but the Band is "open for questions or dialogue."

One reason Casimir gave in her letter was because Tk'emlúps has very little decision making power at the regional hospital district.

Robinson encouraged Christian and the regional hospital district to engage with Tk'emlúps and the federal Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

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However, she also stated that hospital tax revenue is negotiated with the Ministry of Health when planning new projects.

"At that time you can identify the costs of serving on-reserve developments from which you do not receive property tax revenue. I am advised the Ministry of Health will take that under consideration," the letter reads.

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Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc, along with other First Nations in the region, is not formally represented in the Thompson Nicola Regional District, and they do not pay taxes toward the regional district.

iNFOnews.ca reached out to Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc, but it declined to comment on this story.

The average home in the hospital district is expected to pay $159 in taxes in 2021, according to a regional district report dated March 25, 2021.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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