Kamloops News

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

Royal Inland Hospital.

Tk'emlups te Secwepemc has denied the Thompson Regional Hospital District's request to add non-member residents to its tax base.

On behalf of the hospital district, board chair and Kamloops mayor Ken Christian wrote a letter requesting that non-member leaseholders on Tk'emlups land pay taxes toward the hospital district.

The cost-sharing basis for hospital districts in B.C. operates on roughly 40% of funding through property taxes throughout the area, and the remainder is provided by the local health authority, according to the letter dated Dec. 31, 2020.

Non-band members who live in subdivisions like Sun Rivers and Sienna Ridge, however, have not contributed their property taxes to the hospital district.

In response, Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir denied the hospital district request, in a letter written on June 8.

"TteS is not in a position at this time to contribute to the hospital tax," the letter states. "TteS is open for questions or dialogue on these issues."

Among several reasons, Casimir first states in the letter that the community generates "at least seven times more sales and income taxes for other governments from its lands than it collects in local revenues."

Other concerns are laid out further, including that the Band does not have formal participation in decision making at the hospital district, and that if Tk'emlups were to contribute tax revenue, then participation would be appropriate.

"Currently there is only piecemeal or limited recognition of our role as government which creates an unfair playing field," the letter from the chief's office reads.

Municipalities within hospital districts are tasked with collecting those taxes themselves, then forwarding those funds to the district once collected through property taxes.

While the non-band members will make use of Thompson Regional Hospital District infrastructure, like Royal Inland Hospital, there is no agreement for the band to collect taxes on behalf of the district.

Major capital funds are underway at Royal Inland Hospital, totalling $417 million for two phases of work at the new patient care tower. Around $172 million of that is to come from the regional district.

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