Blockage of public access to trail alongside an old railway and an annual fee of $10,000 is what would happen if the District of Lantzville were to cancel a property tax exemption bylaw for the Island Corridor Foundation, according to a staff report.
On Monday, Lantzville councillors received a report from district staff outlining the consequences of rescinding property tax bylaw exemption for the Island Corridor Foundation, which has been in place since 2011 and is valid until 2021.
The idea to generate a report comes on the heels of growing concerns about the Island Corridor Foundation from various municipalities, including the Regional District of Nanaimo, which voted earlier this year to withdraw a $1-million funding commitment to the foundation.
The report states that if Lantzville councillors were to vote in favour of rescinding the foundation’s permissive tax exemption, the district would be forced to pay $9,172 annually. The foundation would also be allowed to block public access along the rail trail since it is the official owners of the land, according to the report.
Councillors only received the report and no decision was made during the meeting.
However, Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime told the News Bulletin that if the district exempts the foundation from its tax, it also means it is exempt from some regional district taxes.
“If we exempt it from our taxes, they would be exempt from some of the regional taxes and they would be exempt from some of the provincial [taxes] as well,” he said.
Haime said while he has serious doubts about whether the Island Corridor Foundation will ever operate a viable train on the railway, he respects that it is the owner of the land that the trail sits on.
Coun. Will Geselbracht said that based on the information he heard at Monday’s council meeting, removing the exemption would be more harmful to the district.
“The whole ICF is a can of worms and I hope the First Nations take it back and they might be generous to let us use it,” he said. “What I understood from last night, for us to remove the extension, we would get billed even more by the Island Corridor Foundation.”