Castlegar requests January court date

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
November 18th, 2009

The City of Castlegar has applied to the B.C. Supreme Court to have the case between Celgar and the city heard this January …but Celgar has to agree for the application to be approved, according to Castlegar mayor Lawrence Chernoff.

This, after an in-camera meeting Monday night saw Celgar hand the city a cheque for $377,000, the portion of Celgar’s unpaid tax bill due the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK). The city already paid the regional district, and has now been re-reimbursed the amount …which still leaves roughly $3.2 million outstanding on Celgar’s 2009 municipal tax bill.

Chernoff said Celgar, at Monday’s meeting, rejected another short-term proposal put forth by the city to address the taxation issue.

“Celgar said they wouldn’t be paying their taxes, period,” he said. “We looked at a five-year reduction plan but, based on our meeting, I guess they (Celgar officials) want all or nothing. They say there’s no short-term solution …that they want a permanent solution, and until they get that, they’re just not paying.

“They want a long-term solution, in a short time frame …realistically, that’s not possible.”

He said permanent solutions are the province of the Province of B.C., and to that end, he and city CAO John Malcolm are in Victoria today to meet with various ministers to seek some sort of option to deal with the issue.

“We’re disappointed, obviously …but we still think they need to pay their taxes,” Chernoff said. “We want a court date to get that settled. We need the judge to make a decision, and we’ll go from there.”

In the interim, he said, meeting with the province to push a new model of major industry taxation is just the opening salvo in city efforts to put this problem behind them.

“We have no idea when Celgar’s going to pay their taxes, so we need to look in different directions – we need to foster diversification in areas like the new gaming centre and developing the airport lands to reduce our vulnerability to Celgar.”

As far as today’s meetings with provincial ministers are concerned, he said the city is seeking any help that might be on offer.

“It’s tedious work, but at this point, we need to continue as best we can to do everything humanly possible to find a timely resolution to this,” he said.

Celgar officials were not available for comment in time for this publication.



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