Public transit is expected to arrive on the West Coast next year, bringing a new tax along with it.
The service, which will see buses traveling between Tofino and Ucluelet, was expected to arrive this year, but that timeline was pushed back to a new tentative launch date in September, 2022.
Taxpayers in the participating communities Tofino, Ucluelet, Electoral Area C (salmon Beach), Ucluelet First Nation and Toquaht First Nation are expected to cover about $550,000 of the service’s annual costs.
Tofino is expected to cover about $274,319 of the bill, with an estimated cost of $167 per household. Ucluelet is expected to cover about $183,922, roughly $98 per household.
Electoral Area C is expected to cover about $74,130, about $88 per household.
The Ucluelet First Nation will cover $16,498 and the Toquaht First Nation will cover $1,131 though their respective portions will be paid through direct billing rather than property taxation.
Taxpayers agreed to pay the $550,000 bill through an Alternative Approval Process held by the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District in 2019 instead of a traditional referendum and anyone opposed to the tax needed to submit an official form to the ACRD. If 602 opposition forms had been received, the transit plan would have been cancelled, but only 336 came in.
Residents of the Electoral Area C community of Salmon Beach have been arguing against being included in the transit service’s tax base since the alternative approval process concluded, arguing they were unaware the process was going on and would not be able to access the service from their community.
In a report submitted to the ACRD board on Sept. 8, the regional district’s operations manager Eddie Kunderman and general manager of administrative services Wendy Thomson explained that while Salmon Beach represents just 3 per cent of the service’s taxation base, allowing the community to be removed from the tax would be problematic.
“Due to the fact that the Salmon Beach percentage of the total assessed value is relatively low the financial impact to the other areas is minimal,” they wrote. “Staff are concerned that if the Salmon Beach area is removed on the basis they do not have easy access to utilize the service, it is quite possible that other areas within the service will also make requests for removal on the same principles.”
A request from Salmon Beach to be left out was rejected.