a successful $60-million judgment against the Municipality of North Cowichan over denying zoning for a new expansion at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit would have staggering repercussions in the municipality, according to a staff report. (File photo)

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

The tax ramifications for any large judgment against the Municipality of North Cowichan if the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit sues and wins its case would be staggering, according to a staff report.

The report, written by CAO Ted Swabey, said the potential liabilities associated with the VIMC claims for damages can’t be ignored, and could have potentially devastating implications for North Cowichan and its taxpayers over the next 10 years and beyond.

The VIMC and municipality have been at odds over the company’s wishes to expand a private motorsport circuit.

Swabey said that if the worst-case scenario were to happen and the municipality were saddled with a $60-million judgment, minus the $20 million that would be covered by insurance, there would be two options for council to choose from.

RELATED STORY: VIMC SAYS NORTH COWICHAN BACKED OUT OF “ASSURANCES”

The first is a one-time tax increase of 133 per cent that would see a tax increase of $2,164 for an average home, and $8,134 for an average business, in North Cowichan for one year.

The second option would be to borrow some or all of the required funding and repay over time.

Swabey said that borrowing over 10 years would result in annual loan payments of $4.6 million each year, which equates to a 15 per cent tax increase each year.

That means that the average home in the municipality would see a tax increase of $250 per year for 10 years, and the average business would see an increase of $930 per year.

“In addition to these tax increases, an additional tax increase of three per cent, at best guess, would be required to pay for our insurance premiums during those 10 years,” Swabey said.

RELATED STORY: NOISE MITIGATION TOP OF MIND AS N. COWICHAN COUNCIL CONSIDERS VIMC EXPANSION PROPOSAL

Swabey said $40 million is the equivalent of building two new RCMP detachments or two aquatic centres.

“Borrowing would make increases slightly more palatable, but would use up a large portion of the district’s borrowing power and cost millions in interest,” he said.

“The opportunity costs of this expenditure would be the tax room used up that could have been used to advance council’s priorities.”

Council decided on Oct. 4, following two marathon nights of public hearing, to deny rezoning at the VIMC property on Highway 18 to allow a major expansion due to community concerns about noise, environmental impacts, and First Nations objections.

But North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring has announced since then that he is exercising his power to ask council to walk back their decision not to approve the rezoning and have council reconsider its vote, revealing that turning down the rezoning has opened the municipality up to the possible $60 million liability.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN WILL HOLD A SECOND PUBLIC HEARING ON VIMC EXPANSION PLANS

That means another public hearing on the rezoning request is scheduled for Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.

Swabey said the municipality already has significant budget challenges facing it over the next number of years.

He said that without adjustments to the work expectations, service levels or major increases to North Cowichan’s revenues, the municipality is already facing five per cent tax increases each year for the foreseeable future.

Swabey said those tax increases are related to the costs of the new RCMP building, the loss of forestry revenue from the Municipal Forest Reserve, loss of revenue from land sales, replacing the Crofton fire hall and other expenses.

Swabey said the scale of any potential claim by the VIMC would be known within three years, and North Cowichan can’t build enough of a reserve in that time to significantly address the issue without unprecedented tax increases.

“This notwithstanding, the potential liability requires attention starting in the 2020 budget,” he said.

“To this end, staff recommend an ongoing 0.5 per cent tax be allocated to a reserve for insurance purposes. This will provide approximately $150,000 per year into a reserve account.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Liberal candidates Michael de Jong (left) and Bruce Banman are projected to win in Abbotsford West and Abbotsford South, respectively. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News
Abbotsford BC Liberals de Jong and Banman heading to Victoria, say Highway 1 widening will be focus

In Abbotsford-Mission, BC Liberal Simon Gibson in close race against NDP’s Pam Alexis

Simon Gibson watching the vote count at the Best Western Hotel in Mission. With 98 polls reporting, Gibson leads NDP challenger Alexis by 188 votes. / Kevin Mills photo.
Abbotsford-Mission riding too close to call, mail-in ballots will decide

98 polls reporting: BC Liberal incumbent Simon Gibson leads NDP challenger Pam Alexis by 188 votes

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Simon Gibson watching the vote count come in at the Best Western Hotel in Mission. Kevin Mills photo.
Abbotsford-Mission riding one of the closest races in the province

BC Liberal incumbent Simon Gibson leading by under 100 votes

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Most Read