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Victoria votes to move ahead with voluntary Indigenous reconciliation tax

Property owners in B.C. capital will have option to donate to local First Nations with tax payment
Victoria councillors approved a motion Thursday (March 24) that calls for forms to be mailed with tax notices that enable property owners to make a voluntary donation to local First Nations, as an act of reconciliation. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

Victoria property owners will have the option to donate to local First Nations alongside their annual municipal tax payments, beginning in 2022.

Councillors approved the idea at the city’s committee of the whole meeting Thursday (March 24), agreeing almost unanimously that it’s a concrete avenue to further reconciliation.

Brought forward by Mayor Lisa Helps and Couns. Marianne Alto, Sarah Potts and Jeremy Loveday, the motion called for a form to be mailed to property owners with their tax notices, with the completely voluntary option to also make a financial contribution to the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations to recognize the land they reside on and benefit from.

Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe raised some concerns around the initial language in the motion, which suggested a payment equivalent to five or 10 per cent of an owner’s property tax or any other amount they deemed fit, and asked that it be made more clear that a contribution of any amount is the owner’s choice. Language was amended to make the suggestions a mere example.

Coun. Stephen Andrew had stronger opposition, arguing that the issue should be addressed at the provincial or federal level instead. Asked how much the system will cost, chief financial officer Susanne Thompson said there will be a one-time expense of $2,000.

When voted upon, only Andrew was opposed. Couns. Geoff Young and Ben Isitt weren’t present at the meeting.

The motion comes to council for final approval at its April 7 meeting.

READ ALSO: PHOTOS: Victoria supports Songhees Nation treaty negotiations with B.C., feds

READ ALSO: Victoria considering voluntary reconciliation tax for property owners

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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