This article was published on the NewsKamloops.com website March 3, 2016
By MIKE YOUDS
While out of town recently, Sun Rivers resident Dawne Taylor had no idea what a can of worms she’d sprung with her letter of inquiry to the TNRD.
“My intent is not to dispute land titles or ownership, but simply to ensure that those with an interest in what transpires in the City of Kamloops have the opportunity to be heard and make their concerns known,” Taylor wrote.
She wondered why residents of the golf resort community, located on Tk’emlups land, cannot have a say in matters affecting the city across the river, the city where many work, play and pray.
The TNRD board wasn’t sympathetic. Directors soundly rejected a motion from Mel Rothenburger, director for Area P (which includes Sun Rivers) to facilitate a discussion with Sun Rivers residents. City of Kamloops directors on the board pointed out that Sun Rivers residents don’t pay taxes to the City, so they shouldn’t have a say in city decisions such as the recent performing arts centre referendum.
Taylor was surprised to find her inquiry so promptly dismissed.
“I raised it at the annual meeting in September,” she said. The Community of Sun Rivers Owners Association CSROA, said they supported her 100 percent.
“We pay taxes to the band and they’re pretty comparable to City taxes, but there is no bus service or ambulance. It never occurred to me I wouldn’t be able to vote when I moved here.”
Arne Raven, a City resident, doesn’t disagree with the contention that Sun Rivers residents should have some say in City matters, but he sees the issue much differently.
Raven argues that Sun Rivers residents benefit from City services, including RIH, without contributing anything to the cost. The degree of unfair taxation has bothered him for several years.
“It’s got nothing to do with the natives,” Raven said. “It’s an issue where people get the benefit of city infrastructure without contributing to the cost.”
Sun Rivers residents are as free as anyone to enjoy City amenities, yet they’re not paying for the major cost of hospitals and schools. Both the TNRD and Tk’emlups First Nation should ante up for the services they receive, he said.
“What should really be done is that Kamloops should have a portion of its tax bill that goes to the TNRD.”
The band doesn’t remit taxes to the City, though. On top of their property taxes, Sun Rivers residents pay a $200 service fee to the band, two-thirds of which goes to the City of Kamloops to offset service costs. Those funds don’t go far, Raven said.
Similarly, industry in Mount Paul Industrial Park, also located on Tk’emlups land, benefits from City services without being fairly taxed, Raven noted.
The issue is significant considering the tax assessments on half-million-dollar homes in the Sun Rivers subdivision, he said.
“The City gets nothing.”
Wayne Vollrath, a member of the executive of CSROA, said the board met Thursday and agreed that points outlined by Taylor are worth pursuing. He, too, was out of town when the issue went before TNRD board.
“I think what they’re doing is taking a simplistic or legalistic view,” said Vollrath, who used to work for the City. “I think anything is do-able as long as there might be a way of making it work.”
For example, Sun Rivers residents could enter into a voluntary taxation agreement with the City, he said.
“They might call it a fee for services; we would call it a tax.”
Vollrath said the association intends to follow up and pursue the matter further with the City.
“There’s a lot of issues that need to be discussed and work to be done, but I don’t think it’s dead by any means.”