Residents and business owners in Victoria may soon be able to pay a voluntary “reconciliation payment” in addition to their property taxes to support local First Nations. While there’s nothing currently stopping people from making a payment right now.
The move was made in response to a council member motion titled Opportunity for Victoria Property Owners to Make Reconciliation Contribution, which was heard before the City of Victoria’s Committee of the Whole.
“In consultation with the City’s Chief Financial Officer, we have determined that it is administratively simple for the City to create an opportunity for residents and businesses, if they so wish, to contribute an additional voluntary amount based on their property taxes to be provided alongside the City’s Reconciliation Grant to the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations,” councillors wrote.
“Property owners will have the option of contributing amounts equal to 5% or 10% of their property taxes, or another amount of their choosing.”
The motion was proposed by Victoria mayor Lisa Helps and councillors Marianne Alto, Sarah Potts and Jeremy Loveday.
“This same process will be followed each year, giving property owners an opportunity to opt in each year. Just because a property owner makes a contribution one year does not mean they are obligated to do so in any following year. The City is not able to issue charitable tax receipts for the contributions,” the motion continues.
The City of Victoria included a $200,000 five-year reconciliation fund in its 2022 budget for both the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.
“Council made this decision as a small gesture to recognize that the wealth generated by the City in the form of property taxes comes from Lekwungen lands, and that reconciliation and decolonization must involve more than words. Reconciliation must also include actions,” wrote councillors.
The city is only temporarily managing the funds for the Songhees First Nation until a new company called Reciprocity Trusts gets off the ground.
“Once Reciprocity Trusts is set up, dollars will go into the south island reciprocity trust,” said Candler. “It will be Indigenous-owned and controlled. Reciprocity will support with administration, and communities will be able to receive dollars to support community priorities.”
To justify the optional tax Councillors also mentioned the so-called discovery of “215 children’s bodies” burred at a gravesite near the former Kamloops Residential School.
As commentators have pointed out, the claims around children being buried at the Kamloops site have not been substantiated, and First Nations Chief Rosanne Casimir has stated that the discovery was “not a mass grave” as the media had earlier described.
How is the extra property tax calculated?
The property owners have 2 options of payment methods, amounts equal to 5% or 10% of their property taxes, or another amount of their choosing.
Is the extra property tax mandatory?
No, currently the extra property tax is pitched as optional for property owners that want to opt-in to the voluntary extra heavy payment. You’re currently not required to make a payment every year if you don’t want to
How long is the extra tax optional for?
Unknown. The bill will come with your regular property tax bill. It’s kind of strange to send a charge on your property tax invoice to make a payment to a so-called donation fund and call it “administratively simple”. If someone wanted to donate they would find the place they want to donate to and they donate. This step on the side where the government sends the invoice is so-called optional but makes no sense unless the end game is try to make it law for mandatory in the future.
There is no other charities you must add to your property tax bill or another other type of government bill to make a donation. Another thought on this is it is a way to normalize it slowly and then put forward as mandatory in future. As of right now we don’t know and must remain skeptical because the government is always looking for a way to pay its way with more taxes.
Why were so-called mass graves mentioned?
The so-called mass graves were mentioned to try to use emotions to leverage and exploit an unproven allegation as a good reason for this extra property tax. The so-called mass graves narrative lack facts and evidence . The so-called graves have been discovered with anomalies in the ground seen by ground penetrating radar. There has been no excavations and forensic investigation were carried out
Who collects the money?
Currently the government will collect the money until a company called Reciprocity Trusts gets off the ground which will be Indigenous-owned and controlled.