New Brunswick

Saint John will ask province to repeal Canaport LNG's tax deal

The City of Saint John will ask the provincial government to repeal a special property tax deal for the Canaport LNG terminal.

City council votes 7-2 in favour of asking the province to repeal Canaport LNG's property tax deal

Saint John councillors voted on Monday night to ask the provincial government to repeal the property tax deal given to the Canaport LNG terminal in 2005. (CBC)

The City of Saint John will ask the provincial government to repeal a special property tax deal for the Canaport LNG terminal.

Coun. Shirley McAlary started the debate by introducing a motion to ask the provincial government to repeal the controversial property tax deal given to the Canaport LNG terminal.

"We've got to start where we have to start," said McAlary.

"And that's with the province of New Brunswick."

Former Saint John mayor Norm McFarlane told city taxpayers in 2005 that he was assured the property tax deal was necessary for the LNG terminal to be built. (CBC)
The deal, approved by the provincial legislature in 2005, chopped the municipal property taxes on the terminal by more than 90 per cent. It fixed the rate at $500,000 per year until 2030.

In 2005, the provincial government created special legislation to facilitate the tax deal after an endorsement by the city council.

Norm McFarlane, the former Saint John mayor, told councillors he had been assured construction of the terminal could not proceed without the arrangement.

A report to council on Monday by John Nugent, the city solicitor, said the terms of a lease arrangement, in which Irving Oil would collect $12 million US per year from the Canaport LNG partnership, were likely not known at the time of the previous council vote.

"One must conclude that the Irving interests made no representation as to their anticipated financial benefit from the project, to either the mayor or common council," said the report.

Coun. John MacKenzie said the city cannot afford the property tax deal any longer. (CBC)
Already under budget pressure to cut services and lay off staff, city councillors lined up Monday to support McAlary's motion.

"There's a time for giving and there's a time when you can't give any more," said Coun. John MacKenzie.

"And we're at a time when where we need every nickel we can get."

The motion passed by a vote of seven to two.

Copies of the motion are to be sent to Premier Brian Gallant, cabinet ministers Ed Doherty and Rick Doucet, and to Local Government Minister Brian Kenny.

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