Saturday, March 28, 2020

Another Affordable Housing Story

https://www.westerlynews.ca/news/affordable-housing-project-advances-in-tofino/#

Friday, March 27, 2020

District Reviewing 2020 Budget In Light of COVID-19 Pandemic


District Reviewing 2020 Budget In Light of COVID-19 Pandemic



No matter who you are in Tofino, we understand that COVID-19 is having a real impact on your life.
 
Faced with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, District of Tofino Council and staff will be reviewing our draft 2020-2024 Financial Plan in recognition of these extraordinary times.  Things have changed significantly since our last budget open house on February 18th, and the District will be reconsidering our draft financial plans over the coming weeks. The Financial Plan and Tax Rates Bylaws are currently required to be adopted by May 15, 2020.

To support our community in the quickly evolving COVID-19 situation, the District is extending the payment due date for Quarter 1 2020  utility bills. 

Many of you have asked about the payment of upcoming utility bills. Utility bills will be distributed the week of April 20th, and the District will be extending the payment due date from 30 days to 90 days.  Late payment penalties will be added to utility accounts after the 90 days has passed.

What about property taxes? 

We understand that many property owners have questions about the potential deferral or reduction of property taxes.

Property tax collection and due dates are mandated by Provincial legislation, meaning that individual local governments cannot alter them. Tofino’s Mayor and Council, along with almost every other municipality in BC, have been asking the Province for further information on property tax deferrals or other tools that will help British Columbians. We have been assured that the Minister of Finance and her staff are actively discussing this topic, although no timeline for updates has yet been provided. 

For the business sector, the Provincial Government has created a webpage for Provincial Tax Changes that have been announced to date, including a reduction of school taxes for Property Classes 4, 5, and 6.

Recreation Facility Grant Denial 

The District’s current Financial Plan includes the development of an Indoor Recreation Facility, dependent on substantial funding (73.33%) from the provincial Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), with the balance to be funded by taxation (borrowing). 

Unfortunately, the District has recently been informed that the application to the ICIP was not successful.

During the December and February budget open houses, we asked the community to share your thoughts about how the District should proceed should the grant application be unsuccessful. In light of the recent denial, District of Tofino Council and staff will reconsider how this project fits into the District’s Financial Plan during our upcoming budget meetings, and discuss the best ways to provide recreation opportunities for residents.

Stay Tuned for More Information About the District Budget Review

In the coming weeks, Council will be discussing significant changes to 2020 operations and projects to be responsive to the COVID-19 pandemic, remain resilient, and prioritize essential services and projects. These changes will impact the budget and property taxation, and we remain committed to communicating regularly with the community about any communication from the Province, changes to the District budget, or impacts to District services.  Follow budget updates at www.tofino.ca/budget or by clicking below:  
Our website will be updated daily by 11:00 a.m. with any new measures or information related to the COVID-19 pandemic that becomes available at www.tofino.ca/blog/covid-19-updates.
 
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Monday, March 23, 2020

Friday, March 20, 2020

Letter from Tofino Rate Payers

Mayor and Council
I write to you today about the unhappy situation that Tofino and indeed most of the world finds itself in.  The global pandemic of the latest iteration of the Corona Virus is playing itself out, with new and unfortunate revelations on a daily basis.  We don’tknow exactly where this situation will lead in the short and mid term. We will get through it, but the costs are still unknown. Are we overreacting? Or completely unprepared? We will find out.
Apart from the obvious and dire health implications, andwhether they are realized or not, a mountain of evidence isbuilding that indicates very serious financial consequences arealso emerging with the current health problems, and associated responses. It is to this that I want to direct your attention.
Many of our 165 membersall Tofitian, representing families and businesses, are already experiencing a significant slow down in tourist visitation, with the cancelation of reservations, and reduced prospects. It will get worse.  This is true of large and small operations. Globally, travel restrictions are being put into place and the public is being asked to put off travel plans.Etc.  BC Ferries are being cancelled because of a lack of customers.
Retirees and those approaching retirement have seen a rapid evaporation of their savings and RSP’s and RIF’s.  The stockmarkets plummet in anticipation of even further bad news and inevitable financial setbacks.   It is universally accepted that we have entered into a significant economic recession that is global in reach. There is no doubt that we will emerge from this as well, in time, but it is likely the effects will continue longer than the virus itself.  Increases in unemployment, reduced GDP and declines in disposable incomes are inevitable. As a primarily tourist town we are squarely in the cross hairs, dependant on the free movement of people and the ability and willingness of the public to spend.
Provincial and Federal governments within Canada and internationally will do what they can to mitigate the effects, but there will be effects.
People will lose their jobs, and for others, generally, incomeswill be reduced. Mortgages and loans will be at risk and some will fail. This will happen.
Local government has a role to play as well. In the delivery of service and the dissemination of accurate information. However,it has an additional job that it can do. 
So, I suggest to you that this is the right time for municipal government to rationalize its spending and reduce the tax burden in nonessential areas. Considerations made a few weeks ago should be set aside and now be subject to the current circumstance thrust upon us and be reviewed with fresh scrutiny.
And I remind you that every individual, family, and business large and small in Tofino will be making their own tough decisions in the months ahead, on personal and business spending. Cuts will have to be made plans, foregone and hopes postponed. For some a matter of survival.  
And so, I implore you to do your part, as best you can, in easing the tax burden for all Tofitians, as we face difficult and uncertain circumstances.
Jack Gillie
For the Tofino Rate Payers Association