EDITORIAL: Ferries can’t skip on taxes

The City of Nanaimo’s move to keep an eye on the latest B.C. Ferries’ storm clouds building over Georgia Strait is an important one.

The provincial Property Assessment Appeal Board ruled the B.C. Ferries property upland of the marine berth is worthless in terms of potential development and reduced the assessed value from $47 million to $20, forcing West Vancouver to pay back  three years – $750,000 – in property taxes to the ferry corporation.

While there is no current appeal by B.C. Ferries regarding its Nanaimo property at Departure Bay, Duke Point and downtown, the possibility has the city concerned as the corporation pays $1.1 million in property taxes.

And like any property owner in Nanaimo, so it should.

Just because B.C. Ferries is awash in red ink is no reason to add another subsidy to the already burdened shoulders of the Nanaimo taxpayers.

It’s those same taxpayers, who as ferry customers, must endure ever-increasing fare costs. It’s those same taxpayers along the Brechin Road and Stewart Avenue corridors who have been adversely affected by vehicle lineups during the summer or when a vessel in the aging fleet is out of commission.

It’s unreasonable to ask Nanaimo citizens to continue paying to use the ferry system and take a hit on their taxes while B.C. Ferry terminals use sewer and water provided by the city and have access to RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue services – all funded by taxes.

The ferry terminals around B.C. are far from worthless to the people who use and depend on them.

The system is broken and needs fixing. But it has to come from within, not by the taxpayers over and over again.

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