Esquimalt councillor to join national policy group

Federation of Canadian Municipalities appoints Coun. Dave Hodgins

Esquimalt’s mayor hopes the appointment of one councillor to a national body could help the township keep check on much-needed federal payments.

Coun. Dave Hodgins will be joining the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in the fall, providing a local voice on two standing committees, one that deals with crime prevention and another that handles policy for social-economic development.

But the real advantage on joining the federation, said Mayor Barb Desjardins, relates to Esquimalt’s dependency on payments it receives for the high proportion of federal land in the municipality.

“Any municipality who has federal properties across the country gets a payment in lieu of the taxes,” Desjardins said. “The question has always been, is it at a normally assessed value.”

The payment in lieu of taxes, or PILT, program doles out more than $500 million annually to local governments to compensate for federal government exemptions from paying property tax.

“Esquimalt is the most dependent community in Canada on PILT,” Desjardins said, who previously served on FCM committees before pulling out last year for personal reasons.

“Because it’s a nationwide issue and FCM has that as one of their issues, it was really important to be at that table and be able to share what’s going on here.”

Hodgins hopes to relay Esquimalt’s concerns with the PILT program beginning in September at a conference in Laval, Que.

“I’m sure there will be an opportunity to connect with people serving on that PILT committee, and I’ll be looking to strengthen Esquimalt’s position on many fronts,” Hodgins said.

The FCM has over 2,000 member municipalities across Canada, and works to build consensus to influence federal government policy on issues like infrastructure spending, green initiatives and policing concerns.