Carbon tax could cost City of Whitehorse $126K in first year

The city’s director of operations spoke to city council on Monday about the expected cost of a new carbon tax, if it comes into effect in January.

Federal carbon tax could come into effect in January

A new federal carbon tax could cost the City of Whitehorse $126,000 in its first year. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

A carbon tax could cost the City of Whitehorse $126,000 in its first year of implementation, if it comes into effect on January 1, 2019, says the city's director of operations.

Peter O'Blenes spoke to city council on Monday about a technical briefing he attended earlier this month, on the carbon tax. The briefing was hosted by the Yukon government to explain a federal government study that looked at how carbon pricing will affect the territory.

The City of Whitehorse's director of operations Peter O'Blenes says it's still not clear how municipalities will fit into the new carbon tax or if they will receive a rebate. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

O'Blenes says it's still not clear how municipalities will fit into the carbon pricing scheme. Carbon tax is broken down into indirect costs — for example, on imported goods taxed outside the territory — and direct costs.

"That direct carbon tax is any time we fill up at the pumps, any time one of our city vehicles fill up with diesel or gasoline, or heating fuel being delivered to this building at city hall," O'Blenes told council.

If the carbon tax comes into effect on January 1, at $20 a carbon tonne, O'Blenes says the city could pay $126,000 in direct costs that year.

The tax will then go up each year until 2022, when it will cost $50 a carbon tonne. O'Blenes says the tax could eventually cost the city $324,000 by 2022.

He also says it's not clear if the city will be provided any rebates.

"We don't know what kind of rebates, if the rebates will be directed back to municipalities or back to residents of the City of Whitehorse," he said.

The Yukon Liberals campaigned in 2016 on a promise that all carbon tax money collected in the territory would be returned to Yukoners.

O'Blenes says city officials will take the $126,000 figure into account when budget planning this summer.

"We will have to place that in our budget with the anticipation that we may see rebate, but any rebates that we would get would not come until the next fiscal year — so everything would be done in 2019, and if we were to get a rebate that would not come until 2020," O'Blenes said.

He says it appears there will be no exemptions for municipalities.

O'Blenes also says municipalities have been promised more details about how the carbon tax will work.


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