The majority of North Bay City Council voted against asking the federal government to reconsider the 2020 carbon tax increase of 2.2 per cent.
The motion put forward by councillor Mike Anthony also asked the government to cancel the 2021 and 2022 increases which would result in approximately 11 cents being added to the cost of a litre of gas in just four years.
Anthony says now is not the time for the federal government to proceed with its planned carbon tax increases.
“Timing is everything. I have never been a fan of things that raise gas prices or impacts gasoline prices. Here in the north, I think we sometimes have it worse than other parts of the province,” said Anthony.
“This has to do with is a federal government decision that on April 1st they once again added another 2.2 cents to every litre of gasoline purchased as part of a cap and trade program. I realize it started last year in 2019, and it is planned to go this year as well as 2021 and 2022. So, it added 2.2 cents right in the middle of the whole COVID-19 pandemic, when really businesses and citizens and many folks are having a tough time. Things are changing. Their income is changing. So, to me it didn’t seem like a great time.”
Anthony voiced concern over potential long-term repercussions.
“I think the economy is still going to be in a state that is not going to be 100 per cent strong and healthy. That is my concern and I just don’t think it is time to be adding to a necessity.”
Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch voted against the motion.
“I think there are financial implications to the city as some of our federal gas tax money comes from the carbon tax,” said Vrebosch.
“This is budgeted in the 2020 budget and to say take it off when it has already been budgeted for, and we’re already five months in, how does that affect the budget?
Vrebosch said if council is going to ask the federal government for something, then it needs to have all its “ducks lined up.”
“Gas prices right now are at an extreme low. I know I saved about $15.00 or $20.00 on filling up my tank the other day. Could that money be better spent instead of the carbon tax and asking for that, could it be better spent on helping in another area whether it is housing, whether it is a recovery program? I don’t know. But I just think this motion needs a little bit more information to it.”
In voting against the motion, councillor Mac Bain said coming forward with a resolution in the middle of May is “asking the federal government to kneecap themselves financially as the year is already underway.”
“We receive a municipal tax grant from the federal government. We get a considerable amount of money,” said Bain.
“If we’re going to say we don’t want you to take the federal gas tax, but we want you to leave intact the funds that we do receive under the federal gas tax money, and because that is important to us is kind of hypocritical of us,” said Bain.
Councillor Bill Vreobosch said the intent is good, but he would like to see more research done “otherwise it is just going to be another letter.”
“You can’t ask them to take it away in one hand and give it to you in the other hand.”
Councillor Chris Mayne also voted against the motion.
“I do agree with the intent of the carbon tax itself. I think it is a direction worth pursuing as a country. It is interesting that we are complaining about additional taxes on gasoline when they are almost at historic lows in the last number of years,” said Mayne.
“It is a significant part of our budget. If anything, we’re actually looking for more money from the federal government to help with transit and transit related projects in the community.”
In the end Councillor Anthony was the only council representative to vote in favour of the motion.