Opinion

BC Ferries trying to leave Prince Rupert taxpayers high and dry

If I told you that you could buy a large parcel of waterfront property in Prince Rupert for just $20, I’m sure hundreds would be lined up out the door waving their $20 bill in the air.

If I were to tell you that you could buy a large parcel of waterfront property in West Vancouver for just $20, I’m sure we’d need to call in the riot police to control the thousands upon thousands who want to buy it.

Valuing a piece of waterfront property at just $20 is so ludicrous it’s laughable (unless maybe the property borders a contaminated toxic cesspool). Anyone with a head on their shoulders can tell you waterfront property is a valuable commodity, and if you want to be on the ocean you better be willing to pay for it.

Yet for whatever reason, the BC Property Assessment Appeal Board has decided that Horseshoe Bay terminal in Vancouver is only worth $20, not the $47 million it had been assessed at. And while that ruling is being appealed, and rightfully so, BC Ferries has appealed the value of the terminal in Prince Rupert in hopes of getting it lessened.

But why would anyone want to see the value of their property drop so dramatically? The answer is simple: If it’s worth next to nothing, then next to nothing is what you pay in taxes to the municipality. This whole ploy is designed by BC Ferries to save a chunk of change, but they are doing it at the expense of the taxpayers. Should BC Ferries be successful in their appeal, which seems to be the precedent that has been set, it will create a roughly $40,000 hole in the City’s budget that has to be filled and the only way to fill that shortfall is to either cut spending or raise taxes.

And to an extent I get the business case for this. Ridership is at a 21-year low (in my mind due to exorbitant fees) and likely to decline further, so the money isn’t the same as it was before.

But claiming financial hardship when the last financial disclosure provided in June shows 20 per cent of employees make more than $75,000 per year, former CEO David Hahn is receiving pension for the next five years of more than $40,000 per month and new CEO Mike Corrigan is making $560,000 per year but made about $900,000 last year due to a payment to cancel out future bonuses is as non-sensical as claiming a $20 value on oceanfront lots.

If you’re expecting sympathy or understanding from the taxpayers of Prince Rupert or other ferry dependant communities, who you are in turn leaving on the hook for this ludicrous money-saving plan, keep looking.

It ain’t gonna happen.

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