DAWSON CREEK, B.C – The Peace River River Regional District board will resume carbon tax talks in May before requesting an exemption from the province.

The board made the motion Thursday to give staff time to gather more information on many factors, including regional fuel consumption. Directors also mentioned wanting to learn more about Thursday’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the federal carbon tax is constitutional.

“So we could go battle the province, and the feds will step in and put the carbon price right back on,” says Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman.

Former PRRD director, Arthur Hadland, penned a letter to the board on March 2nd claiming the tax hasn’t reduced consumption of carbon fuels or improved the environment. He doesn’t believe northern residents should pay the tax to heat their homes.

“My most recent fuel bill for heating my home shows that 19 per cent of that bill is attributed to the Carbon Tax,” wrote Hadland to the PRRD. “Today, it is incumbent on our local government and MLAs to protect the rural citizens from a grossly unfair and unnecessary Carbon Tax.”

Chair Brad Sperling mentioned the request originally focusing on agriculture communities and organizations, but it has morphed since all residents are suffering.

Electoral Area ‘B’ Director Karen Goodings received a letter from Buckinghorse River Lodge, asking to be a part of exemption discussions. The community cannot connect to the power grid meaning the community has to power itself by burning fuel.

“We all know what has happened with the oil and gas slowdown, now with Covid, very few tourists are travelling the highway, and they are suffering,” says Go0dings.

Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman noted that staff should speak with BC Hydro about the North Montney Region Electrification study to see if there is an opportunity for residents and businesses to benefit. The research is assessing what is required to bring transmission infrastructure to the North Montney Region.

The provincial carbon tax rate rose from $35 to $40 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) in 2019, with another increase planned for March 2020 that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tax rate is set to increase to $45 per tCO2e on April 1st. Another $5 increase is scheduled for April 2022.

In 2008, the first broad-based carbon tax was implemented in B.C, taxing the purchase and use of fossil fuels. The PRRD was granted an exemption for B.C. Agriculture in 2009, which was supported by the Union Of B.C. Municipalities.

PRRD staff were asked to bring a report back to the board within 60 days to continue discussions.