VICTORIA – The B.C. government has passed legislation setting tax rates in a 25-year project development deal for what the government hopes is the first of a series of liquefied natural gas export facilities.
Premier Christy Clark invited Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain and Port Edward Mayor Dave MacDonald to the legislature for a brief celebration Tuesday, as debate wound down on a rare summer session of the B.C. legislature.
Brain, a rookie mayor at age 29 and fourth generation Prince Rupert resident, said the prospect of economic recovery is welcome for the struggling community of 14,500 people.
"When I was in high school we lost three major industries all at the same time in our town," Brain said. "We lost our forest industry, our fishing industry and our mill. I lost a lot of friends, we lost half our population and ever since it's been a struggle for our community to get back on track."
Clark said the project development agreement with Petronas-led Pacific Northwest LNG for the Port of Prince Rupert is complete from the government's standpoint. She ruled out any further exemptions to the provincial sales tax that applies to investments in plant and pipelines that could reach $36 billion.
"We aren't considering changing the way the PST is treated for this or any other projects," Clark said, responding to comments by David Keane, president of the B.C. LNG Alliance.
Keane questioned the suggestion that LNG investors are getting a discount for investing in B.C.
"This is the only regime where we have to pay a special LNG tax," Keane told reporters in Victoria last week. "It's the only jurisdiction where we have to pay a carbon tax, and we also have to buy carbon offsets to get down to our greenhouse gas target that was legislated last year.
"And in addition to that, we're also going to be paying PST, GST, payroll taxes, municipal taxes, and corporate income taxes at both the federal and provincial levels."
Pacific Northwest still needs an environmental permit from the federal government, and approval from the Lax Kw'alaams Band, whose territory includes the Lelu Island site chosen for the LNG shipping terminal.
Opposition MLAs opposed the agreement, citing a lack of job guarantees and protection for the investors from discriminatory tax and regulation changes for 25 years.