Victoria property owners will have the option to donate to local First Nations alongside their annual municipal tax payments, beginning in 2022.
Councillors approved the idea at the city’s committee of the whole meeting Thursday (March 24), agreeing almost unanimously that it’s a concrete avenue to further reconciliation.
Brought forward by Mayor Lisa Helps and Couns. Marianne Alto, Sarah Potts and Jeremy Loveday, the motion called for a form to be mailed to property owners with their tax notices, with the completely voluntary option to also make a financial contribution to the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations to recognize the land they reside on and benefit from.
Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe raised some concerns around the initial language in the motion, which suggested a payment equivalent to five or 10 per cent of an owner’s property tax or any other amount they deemed fit, and asked that it be made more clear that a contribution of any amount is the owner’s choice. Language was amended to make the suggestions a mere example.
Coun. Stephen Andrew had stronger opposition, arguing that the issue should be addressed at the provincial or federal level instead. He also took issue with the fact all councillors weren’t included in the development of the idea, noting it should have been discussed in-camera first, a comment to which no one voiced agreement. Helps and Thornton-Joe each said the motion followed proper procedure, and Coun. Loveday said he found Andrew’s comments misleading to the public.
Asked how much the system will cost, chief financial officer Susanne Thompson said there will be a one-time expense of $2,000.
When voted upon, only Andrew was opposed. Couns. Geoff Young and Ben Isitt weren’t present at the meeting.
The motion comes to council for final approval at its April 7 meeting.
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