North Saanich Geoff Orr, here seen speaking in his backyard April 21, said North Saanich is still in the middle of setting its tax rate in promising additional tax relief. (Screen cap)

North Saanich to review tax rates

Mayor Geoff Orr announced the move in a video message

North Saanich Geoff Orr said in a video message that the municipality will be having further discussion about tax rates to deal with the economic effects of COVID-19.

“There has been some social media somewhat critical of North Saanich’s performance so far,” he said.

“Rest assured we do care about and understand the difficulties many of you on the residential side or on the business side are experiencing and we will do our very best to mitigate or improve some of those difficulties,” he said.

John Treleaven, vice-chair of the Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria, publicly called on all municipalities, including North Saanich, to follow Sidney’s proposal for a zero per cent general property tax increase, while cutting commercial taxes by 10 per cent.

North Saanich earlier this month approved the 2020 budget. It includes average tax increase of 1.9 per cent for business properties and 3.29 per cent for residential properties. The municipality also deferred a $50-increase in the water infrastructure replacement tax to 2021, lowering the tax increase for an average residence to $41.

RELATED: Sidney plans 10 per cent break on commercial taxes, zero increase for general property

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Council also agreed to waive utility fee late payment penalties for the Feb. 24 billing cycle and extend the payment deadline of the June billing from July 31 to Sept. 30, 2020.

Orr did not give further hints about council’s direction and the agenda for Monday’s meeting was not yet publicly available as of Wednesday afternoon.

The provincial deadline for setting tax rates is May 15. The province has also been announcing a series of measures designed to set help taxpayers both on the residential and commercial side.

Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor, meanwhile, said he is not critical of Sidney’s decision, but also added that he will continue to push for greater coordination among the municipalities.

Speaking in general terms, Orr thanked North Saanich residents for doing their part in dealing with the pandemic. “We understand it is a difficult time for everyone and there is uncertainty associated with when we are going to emerge from this,” he said. “I”m feeling that same uncertainty, as are my colleagues on council and I know many staff members. I can assure that we are working hard on your behalf and are looking at all avenues to try to get through this the best way we can and come out the other side ready to rebuild.”

Orr also addressed public concerns about North Saanich’s closed green waste facility.

He said the municipality is working on a solution that would either see the facility reopen or see the municipality make alternative arrangement in asking for patience.


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