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Exempt north from carbon tax: UBCM

The Union of British Columbia Municipalities has asked Premier Gordon Campbell to exempt rural areas and municipalities from the B.C. Carbon Tax.

UBCM members overwhelmingly passed a dozen “greenhouse gas reduction initiatives,” which were amended by to “level the playing field” by “eliminating or reducing the carbon tax in areas where residents cannot make choices about their fuel consumption due to distance, climate and resource-based livelihoods.”

B.C. New Democratic Party leader Carole James observed this morning's passionate debate in Penticton.

“This resolution was a pretty clear message to government: You’re not listening to us, and we’re trying again,” James said.

“It’s another example of people trying to get Gordon Campbell to understand that his gas tax wasn’t well thought-out, wasn’t well-planned, and didn’t include discussion with British Columbians,” the opposition leader added.

Premier Campbell will respond to the UBCM resolution this afternoon, according to a spokeswoman.

UBCM has asked the province to exempt Northern BC residents from the tax, and to increase the $100 Climate Action Dividend upward for rural residents; the UBCM has also asked the province to share carbon tax revenue with municipalities, to rebate carbon tax revenue collected from municipalities, and to exempt from the carbon tax those municipalities that have signed the BC Climate Action Charter, among other requests.

Burnaby Coun. Sav Dhaliwal was among many who spoke in favour of UBCM resolution.

"It's not a question of whether we really recognize climate change is happening, we all know that. The carbon tax should be repealed because it won't do the job,” Dhaliwal said.

Grand Forks Coun. Chris Moslin added, “There's a belief that this is revenue neutral. I don't believe that. It's a way of gathering revenue.”

There were also rural B.C. leaders who spoke in support of the B.C. Carbon Tax (and against the successful UBCM motion).

“The UBCM has a long history of leadership, we have a responsibility to get it right for future generations,” said Dawson Creek Mayor Calvin Kruk.

“As soon as you bring in a new tax someone will complain that it's unfair and look for special advantages,” agreed Grant Fraser, a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District. “We should just suck it up and move on.”

Monte Paulsen and Geoff Dembicki report for The Hook.

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